Reported by Malay Ray
Rourkela, Mar 10:
Sundargarh Adivasi Mulabasi Bachao Sangha (SAMBS), which has been on an indefinite dharna since March 7 against the Odisha government decision to include several peripheral tribal villages in the proposed Rourkela Municipal Corporation (RMC), has called a Rourkela bandh on March 18 to press its demand for the withdrawal of the notification.
Addressing a press conference here today, Biramitrapur MLA George Tirkey, who is leading the agitation, said SAMBS will also oppose Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik when he visits the Steel City on March 15. The demonstration in front of the RMC would continue till the notification conferring corporation status to Rourkela is withdrawn, he said.
Addressing another press conference in the city today, Congress MLA from Talsara constituency Prafulla Majhi said while he was not against Corporation status to Rourkela, he would oppose tooth and nail the inclusion of Jhartarang and Jagda Panchayats in the proposed Rourkela Municipal Corporation. He also said he would oppose Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s visit to Rourkela on March 15.
Hundreds of tribals, led by Tirkey and former Raghunathpalli MLA Halu Mundari, had marched in a rally to the RMC office here and staged a demonstration on March 7. Since then they have stayed out at the place, intermittently shouting slogans against the Naveen Patnaik government and preventing staff from going in, seriously affaecting work in the office in the process.
The state government had announced its decision to confer corporation status to Rourkela Municipality about a year ago, before the last assembly election. The inclusion of some villages on the outskirts of the municipality limits of the Steel City in the proposed municipal corporation enraged the tribals in these villages, who have been opposing the decision ever since.
But ignoring the protest, the state government issued a notification on 14th November 2014 formally according corporation status to Rourkela.
The tribals united under the banner of SAMBS had organised an economic blockade in the district on January 20 and 21 demanding withdrawal of the notification granting Municipal Corporation status to Rourkela.