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Odisha tribals protest corporation status to Rourkela

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Reported by Malay Ray
Bhubaneswar, Mar 7:

Demanding withdrawal of the Odisha Government notification conferring Corporation status on Rourkela Municipality, hundreds of tribals of Sundargarh district under the banner of Sundargarh Adivasi Mulabasi Bachao Sangha (SAMBS) staged a demonstration in front of Rourkela Municipal Corporation today.

Pic: Malay Ray
Pic: Malay Ray

The protesters were still at the spot when reports last came in.

Biramitrapur MLA George Tirkey who is leading the demonstration, served an ultimatum to the government saying this is the last warning for it to withdraw the notification.

“Sundargarh is a schedule area, which comes under the purview of Panchayat Extension of Scheduled Area (PESA) Act, under which inclusion of Panchayat areas in Municipal Corporation is fully illegal,” he said.

“This is the last warning to the state government to withdraw the notification. If it does not heed the warning, we will be forced to take law into our own hands,” the tribal leader said.

The protesters shouted slogans against the Naveen Pattnaik government dubbing it anti tribal. Transactions at the office of Rourkela Municipal Corporation came to grinding halt as no public was allowed to enter the office by the protesters.

“Efforts are on to talk to the protesters, but they are rigid on their stand,” said Durga Mohapatra, Municipal commissioner.

The state government had announced Municipal Corporation status to Rourkela Municipality about a year ago, before the last assembly election.

The trouble started when some of the neighboring areas of the city located on the outskirts of the municipal limits were included in the municipal corporation limits, which witnessed stiff resistance from different quarters.

The state government had ignored the resentment and the status of Municipal Corporation was formally accorded through a state government notification on November 14, 2014. The notification was rejected outright by the tribal community of the district leading to the birth of SAMBS, which has been opposing this notification since beginning.

It may be mentioned here that SAMBS had staged an economic blockade in the district on January 20 and 21 demanding withdrawal of notification granting Municipal Corporation status to Rourkela.