Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Sambalpur/Brahmapur, Nov 11:
While normal life came to a standstill in most parts of Odisha’s Sambalpur district today in response to the dawn to dusk bandh called by the ‘People’s Forum for IIM’ over the demand for setting up of the proposed Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Sambalpur, students of different colleges in Brahmapur held demonstrations demanding the establishment of the premier institute in their city.
Commercial establishments, markets, schools, courts, colleges and other educational institutions, state and central government offices remained closed in Sambalpur town, Burla, Kuchinda, Redhakhol and Hirakud in response to the bandh call.
Vehicles, barring two wheelers, remained off the roads in response to the bandh call in these areas. Bus passengers who had arrived by long distance buses at Sambalpur and were to leave for destinations in interior areas remained stranded at the bus stand for the whole day. They were relieved, however, after buses started plying at 5 pm.
Bandh supporters stopped movement of trains at different stations in Sambalpur district to the discomfort of long distance rail commuters.
Political activists from all political parties including the BJD joined the agitators and were seen picketing at several places.
Residents of Sambalpur town had formed a human chain under the aegis of the People’s Forum for IIM in Sambalpur demanding the establishment of the proposed IIM here.
“The central government guidelines have left no scope for the establishment of the IIM here. We are supporting the bandh. The Central government’s guideline has specifically said that the IIM should be located at a place within an hour’s distance from the nearby airport”, said Rohit Pujari district president BJD and Redhakhol MLA.
The ‘People’s forum for IIM’ has planned to stage dharnas in front of the state assembly as well as the residence of chief minister Naveen Patnaik beginning November 20, if the government does not yield to their demand for setting up of the IIM at Sambalpur.
In the silk city, Brahmapur, students of Khallikote Autonomous College , Sashi Bhusan Rath Womens’ College and several other colleges demonstrated in front of their colleges with placards in their hands demanding establishment of IIM in the city or anywhere in Ganjam district.
The statement made by the BJD spokesperson Samir Dash on Monday in support of the state government’s preference for Bhubaneswar, saying that the November 7 guidelines of the HRD ministry, sent to all states where the proposed IIMs are to be set up, had left very little room for manoeuvre, has added further fuel to the fire.
Dash yesterday told reporters in Bhubaneswar, “The Centre’s guidelines issued on November 7 specifically state that the site should be so located that it can be reached from the airport within an hour. It should also have excellent rail connectivity. Since we have one airport in our state and superfast trains like Rajdhani Express run from Bhubaneswar, it is the only option available with the state government”.
Clearly, the ruling BJD wants to wriggle out of the complicated situation arising out of the site selection of the IIM and divert the anger of people in Sambalpur, Rourkela and Brahmapur against the Centre.
While the fight for locating the proposed IIM in their respective regions continues, IIM Odisha has already been added as a choice for candidates appearing the Common Aptitude Test (CAT) this month.