IIM location triggers regional divide in Odisha

Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, March 3:

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s recommendation to the Centre for setting up of the proposed Indian Institute of Management (IIM) at Sambalpur has led to a wave of protests at other places which had staked a claim for the premier central institute.

(Pic courtesy: www. eodisha.org)
(Pic courtesy: www. eodisha.org)

People took to the streets with placards and banners in Rourkela, Baleswar and Brahmapur today to press their demand for setting up the premier management institute in their cities.

The residents of Rourkela were the most vocal with several organisations taking out a rally demanding the premier institute to come up in their city.

“Rourkela alread has NIT. It also has RSP, four lane roads, good rail connectivity and all other modren infratsructure needed for this kind of an institute. Besides, the process for setting up an airport here has already begun with the visit of the Airports Authority of India (AAI)  team a ccouple of days ago,” said a member of the Rourkela Jagaran Manch, one of the organisers of the protest in the Steel City.

There was protest in Baleswar town where students voiced their demand for the IIM in their locality .

“We have good road and water connectivity and are not very far away from either Bhubaneswar or Kolkata. We also have an industry corridor which has an IT hub and manufacturing units. The state government should seriously consider setting up the IIM here,” said Nitin Pradhan, a student.

In Brahmapur, members of the Forum for IIM and several organisations took to the streets in protest against the decision of the chief minister in recommending the setting up of IIM in Sambalpur. Terming the decision of the chief minister as step-motherly attitude Brahmapur, they threatened to continue the stir till their demands were met.

“After declaring Bhubaneswar to be site for the IIM, now can Naveen now recommend Sambalpur to be the location for IIM?,” said an agitator accusing the Chief Minister of step motherly traetment towards this premier city in south Odisha.

In spite of the widespread resentment among the students and denizens of Bhubaneswar over the relocation of the institute, ruling party MLAs have thrown their weight behind their leader.

“Air connectivity, infrastructure and amenities are among the prerequisites for setting up of a premier institute in any location. Bhubaneswar being the state capital has the necessary infrastructure and qualifies as the location for IIM on every count. If the guest faculties have to spend major time in travelling, I don’t think the experts would be interested to visit far off places having low connectivity facilities. Besides, the students would get better industry exposure in the state capital,” a student of Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar (XIMB) said.

Though the state government’s move is being seen as a sop for the civic poll-bound western Odisha town, its party leaders are singing in unison on expected lines.

“It would have been great to have the IIM in Bhubaneswar. However, given the letter of Union HRD minister, it is better to have the IIM in Sambalpur than not to have it at all. It is also not a good thing to have regional disparity,” said Priyadarshi Mishra, MLA of Bhubaneswar North.

“Bhubaneswar is already an educational hub. The chief minister belongs to all of Odisha and so will be the IIM. The location does not matter much. It depends on the Centre. We have also requested the Centre to relax the guidelines,” said Bijay Mohanty, MLA of Bhubaneswar Central.



It may be noted that the state government earlier had recommended the Union HRD ministry to set up the IIM in Bhubaneswar as it fulfilled the guideline of the ministry. The decision of the government on the selection of the site in Bhubaneswar had triggered widespread protest in Jharsuguda, Sambalpur and Brahmapur.

A central team of the ministry had visited two sites in the city in January and recommended Gothapatna to be the permanent location of the IIM campus.

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