Sambalpur: Noted Congress leader, former minister, and parliamentarian late Sriballav Panigrahi’s 83rd birth anniversary was celebrated today at his birthplace in Bargaon located about 19 kilometres away from Sambalpur town in this district.
Sriballav was born on the 2nd of September, 1940 in Bargaon in a freedom fighter’s family. He was the son of Narsing Panigrahi and Sakrabati Panigrahi. He went on the path of public life and served the people in various capacities.
One of the high points of his career was when he became a Cabinet minister in the Nandini Satpathy Government in 1973 at the age of 32. During his three terms in the Lok Sabha, he was regarded as a very powerful MP, often speaking on important issues. He was made the Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Petroleum and Chemicals. Heading one of Odisha’s largest trade unions, the Odisha Collieries Mazdoor Sangh (OCMS), he was a leading figure in the trade union movement in India. Education was also close to his heart and till his death in 2015, he headed the New Life Education Trust (NLET) which ran over 350 Aurobindo schools across Odisha.
A commemorative function was held at the Veer Surendra Sai High School in Bargaon. Incidentally, the same school was founded by Sriballav in 1983. The name ‘Veer Surendra Sai’ was also given by him.
The function was presided over by a senior teacher of the school Chittaranjan Pujari and was started with floral tributes being offered to Sriballav’s portrait.
Eminent journalist Subhas Chandra Panigrahi, who is Sriballav’s younger brother, was the chief guest at the function. Subhas is also the president of the managing committee of the school.
In his address, Subhas talked about Sriballav’s immense contribution to the development of Odisha, particularly Western Odisha. A Gandhian to the core, Sriballav’s honesty, integrity and stellar record as a parliamentarian were talked about. Subhas also recalled Sriballav’s efforts in popularising the Sambalpuri language and culture. Sriballav had raised the issue of recognition of Sambalpuri language in the 8th Schedule of the constitution, on the floor of the Lok Sabha.
Social activist and Sriballav’s nephew Rajib Kumar Panigrahi also spoke on the occasion. He said that his uncle’s unique and spotless personality continues to inspire a lot of people.
Tripathi in his closing remarks said that Sriballav is one of the tallest sons of Odisha and definitely the most illustrious personality from Western Odisha. The school will continue to commemorate his birth anniversary every year.