The year 2021 took birth in the posterior shadow of the First Wave. True to the sayings of American Theatre critic Brooks Atkinson, "Drop the last year into the silent limbo of the past. Let it go, for it was imperfect", the year took the first baby steps when on Day 2 of its birth, the desi vaccine Covaxin got EUA nod.
However, as time flies, what was being felt all over as the end, took a drastic turn to scripting a more lethal beginning. The deadly Second Wave riding on Delta cursed large-scale deaths, made the citizens gasp for breath. Misery writ large all over.
But reflecting the sayings of American author Gary Ryan Blair, "Every task, race, goal and year comes to an end... therefore make it a habit to Finish Strong," the year 2021 finished strong as the country and the State scripted milestones in vaccination drive against Delta variant of Covid-19.
In the twilight hours of 2021, a saying of American journalist Ellen Goodman flows through one's mindscape. She had said, "Maybe this year, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives not looking for flaws, but looking for potential."
Hopefully, amid the looming shadow of the Omicron variant, the country and State taking a leaf out of the book called 2021, bang on at the 'Potential' to write a new book known by the number 2022.
And this will be possible if the State and nation as a whole reflect upon the past to take one or two lessons.
Though the pandemic had been the anchor event in the year 2021, Odisha had a fair share of ups and downs in other spheres of the world called NEWS.
January 2: Day 2 of the year had been a bloody one in Odisha when the State woke up to a brutal murder of BJP leader and his associate at Mahanga in Cuttack district. The Opposition termed it a political murder.
However, the good news on day 2 was, India's desi vaccine Covaxin got the emergency use authorisation (EUA).
Odisha Mass Education department made an announcement on the opening of schools for the classes of 9 and 10th, which were suspended due to the first wave of the pandemic.
PM Modi laid the Foundation stone of a permanent campus for IIM Sambalpur.
January 3: In a booster shot to the anti-Covid armoury, Serum India Institute's (SII) Covishield received EUA by the Drug Controller General of India (DGCI).
This is the day when the Juggernaut rolls on. After a 9-month hiatus, Hindu devotees were allowed to take a glimpse of Lord Jagannath. The Srimandir was thrown open to devotees. All prominent religious institutions in Odisha unlocked.
January 4: Odisha saw swearing-in of 32nd CJ of Orissa High Court. Justice S Murlidharan took the oath of office.
Odisha Health Minister Naba Das announced the State will get the vaccine consignment by the end of the month. Only health workers and frontline workers will be inoculated, he added.
January 5: In the backdrop of the pandemic, Bird Flu raises its' ugly head in Odisha. Samples from Chilika and Nalabanta sent for test.
January 6: Factory mishap jolted Odisha. 4 died in a toxic gas leak at Rourkela Steel Plant.
The gates of the 11th-century shrine of Lord Shiva, Lingaraj Temple, were thrown open for devotees in Odisha.
January 7: Odisha witnessed a high intense drama after an anonymous letter speaking about a conspiracy to assassinate CM Naveen Patnaik reached the Naveen Niwas.
January 8: The year's first political activity recorded on this day as Bharat Bandh was organised jointly by INC and Left parties.
The Union Cabinet approved disinvestment in Neelachal Ispat Nigam at Kalinga Nagar in Odisha's Jajpur. This company was promoted by MMTC (Metals and Minerals Trading Corporation of India)
Iran fired missiles at American Air Base in Iraq, The then President Donald Trump said "All is well."
January 10: Assets of Naveen Cabinet Out. Two heavyweight cabinet ministers– State Revenue Minister Sudam Marandi (from Mayurbhanj district) and Health Minister Naba Kishore Das (from Jharsuguda district) - admitted to owning licensed firearms.
As per the annual property return filed by the Naveen Patnaik Cabinet, Ministers have invested heavily in land, bank term deposits and insurance plans/policies etc. Some dabbled their investments in bonds, shares and debentures.
CM Naveen Patnaik declared owning an asset of around Rs 65 Crore and a loan burden of Rs 1.25 cr.
January 11: A key day for the country as PM in a video conference with CM of all states, including Odisha, informed of kick-starting nationwide vaccination drive from Jan 16.
Higher edu institutions in Odisha saw the light of the day since sine die in March 2020.
The government of Indonesia honoured Bhumiputra Biju Patnaik. The embassy dedicated a room themed on Biju Patnaik. The said room, featured with pictures and memorabilia of Odisha's legendary leader, will be used as a lounge for guests and as a conference room for its employees.
January 12: The first batch of Covishield reached Odisha. The State launched prep drive on a war footing.
CM Naveen Patnaik announced waiver of Matric fee for students studying in State government or aided schools.
The country's top court stays execution of new farm laws. Set up a 4-member expert Committee to study the clauses and sub-clauses of the new farm law.
January 13: The first batch of India's desi vaccine Covaxin landed in Bhubaneswar. The City Civic body gave the final touches to launch the drive on 16 Jan.
Social worker Padma Shri D Prakash Rao left for the ether world. PM Modi had lavished praises for imparting free education to children.
January 14: Indravati mega lift irrigation project inaugurated by CM Naveen Patnaik. This was CM's first public address after 9-months.
January 15: Over a dozen teachers, staff and students in western Odisha were tested Covid-19 positive.
Orissa High Court registry in a reply to RTI denied of HC receiving any letter from the Odisha government requesting constitution of an SIT over Nayagarh Minor Murder Case.
January 16: Nationwide vaccination drive kicked off. Odisha recorded only 0.02 percent side effects on an opening day.
January 19: Niti Innovation Index 2020 out. Odisha ranking dropped down by 2 points. In ease of doing business, the Index gave zero score to the State. Odisha finished at the bottom in the indicator of Investing to bring Innovation.
January 20: Centre filed an affidavit in Supreme Court and informed enforcing a stay on implementation of new farm laws for 1.5 years.
January 21: A major fire engulfed Serum Institute India hit the headlines. The company declared vaccines safe.
Odisha government announced a modernisation and beautification drive for the famous Sun Temple in Konark.
January 22: In a first, Odisha School and Mass Education department announced that students will appear for the Matric exam in their own schools.
Lokayukta ordered a Vigilance probe over breach of the River Kelua embankment in Jajpur. Allegations of involvement of local BJD MLA flew thick and fast.
January 24: Sex racket in Bhubaneswar Orthopedically handicapped centre hit the headlines.
January 25: Odia boy Anvesh Subham Pradhan was chosen for the coveted Rashtriya Bal Puruskar under Scholastic category. PM Modi spoke via video conferencing.
Januarys 26: The Rajpath on 72nd Republic Day witnessed the Bajasal or Bihasal folk dance of Kalahandi. A dance played during the wedding day in western Odisha uses the five musical instruments - Nishan, Dhol, Tasa, Mahuri and Jhanj.
Veteran BJD leader Bhatruhari Mahatab struck a dissent note over new bus terminal in Cuttack. BJD intra-political squabbling between new and old generation to the fore.
January 27: Odia sculptor Sudarshan Sahoo bestowed with Padma Vibhushan on the occasion of 72nd Republic Day. Vir Chakra conferred posthumously on Odia Jawan Nuduram Soren hailing from tribal district Mayurbhanj. The Odia soldier made supreme sacrifice at Galwan valley - Indo-China clash.
January 29: India Justice Report 2020 de-ranked Odisha to 11 th from 7th in the year 2019. The IJR ranks states on the basis of three pillars - Police, Prisons, Judiciary and Legal Aid. It has found Odisha very pitiable in the pillars of the Judiciary and Legal Aid.
January 30: In a big embarrassment to the Naveen Patnaik-led BJD government, the Economic Survey 2021 tabled in the Parliament by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had revealed that access to the 'bare necessities' is the lowest in Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Tripura. State registered little progress in 2012-18.
Scam in barricades erected for creating Covid containment zones in Balangir put the government and district administration in the dock.
February 1: Union Budget tabled in Lok Sabha. Under the programme, PM Atmanirbhar Yojana, integrated public health labs to be set up in all the districts and 3382 block public health units in 11 states, including Odisha. Also, the programme will see the establishment of critical care hospital blocks in 602 districts, including many aspirational districts in Odisha.
The budget proposed the 464 km Raipur-Vishakhapatnam road corridor that will pass through three states - Chhattisgarh, Odisha and North Andhra Pradesh. The construction will start in 2021-22
The Tier-2 cities in Odisha may see a metro soon, following the announcement in the budget about the adoption of two new technologies i.e., ‘MetroLite’ and ‘MetroNeo’ to provide metro rail systems at a much lesser cost with the same experience, convenience and safety in Tier-2 cities.
Announced setting up of modern fishing harbour and fish landing centre at Paradip.
The budget announced the adoption of an intensified strategy to improve nutritional outcomes across 112 Aspirational Districts in the country, including Odisha.
Railway Budget: Special focus was on ramping up the rail infrastructure in Odisha. Allocated a record Rs 5,528 crore for the development of infrastructure and rail safety alone, though the total budgetary outlay for the State was pegged at Rs 6,995.58 crore.
A record allocation of Rs 1,000 crore made for delayed Khurda – Balangir new line for the year 2021-22.
15th Finance Commission Report released: Odisha ranked at 12th poorest in the allopathic doctor-to-population ratio in the country. Only 1 doctor per massive 9,761 persons.
February 3: Andhra Pradesh conducted Panchayat elections in disputed village Kotia in Odisha. The government left red-faced. The opposition attacked CM.
As per data released by Internal Security (Maoists) division in the Union Home Ministry, the total LWE (left-wing extremists) surrenders in Odisha in 2020 had been mere 14 from a high of over 100 for the two consecutive years of 2013 – 2014.
February 5: IMD announced to set a research centre on lightning in Odisha. The State recorded around 20 lakh cloud to ground strikes every year.
February 6: Farmers across the nation, including Odisha, held Chakka Jaam protesting against the new farm laws.
February 10: A SBI report brought embarrassment to Odisha govt as the report observed that payment of a total direct gross premium in health insurance was around Rs 481 crore, including non-government sponsored health insurance schemes, and State’s share was only a mere 1 per cent of the gross direct premium paid across states in the country. This shows failure of BSKY.
Another SBI Report had put Odisha at 14th rank in management of Covid-19. UP topped the list. This report didn't rank the Ganjam model of Odisha.
February 22: Odisha budget tabled in State Assembly. Health allocations raised to Rs 9,164 crore against last year’s 7,700 crore. Drinking-Water, Education and other vital social sectors too received higher allocations in the budget.
The gross borrowings for the State grew to 61 per cent to touch Rs 43,986 crore. The debt stock of Odisha rose to touch 20.9 per cent of the GSDP.
The prime accused in the 1999 Bhubaneswar gang-rape case, Biban alias Bibekanand Biswal, absconding for the last 22 years, nabbed by the Commissionerate Police.
February 26: State Capital Bhubaneswar turned the hottest city in India. The city temperature hovered around 40 deg C.
February 27: First signs of second wave observed. New daily caseload touched 100. Western Odisha district emerged as the hotspots.
February 28: IMD report revealed that western Odisha had grown warmer in last 100-years.
March 1, 2021: In the second phase vaccination drive, inoculation drive for senior citizens began. PM Modi took Covaxin in AIIMS. CM Naveen Patnaik also took the first dose of Covaxin.
Political uproar over demolition of mutts in Puri for the Shree jagannath Temple Corridor project.
Odisha government announced to hold OBC survey in the State in the month of May.
March 2, 2021: The India Skills Report 2021 disclosed that not even 31 per cent of students in Odisha have employable talent, which means the skills acquired by them are not sufficient to find a suitable job.
Odisha police seizes Rs 8 crore fake notes that was being transported from Raipur to Vizag.
March 3, 2021: Forest fire in Simlipal hit international headlines. Odisha topped the country with 296 active large fires on the day.
1999 gang rape victim Anjana Mishra went to jail for TI parade.
March 4, 2021: Arcelor Mittal signed an MoU to set up a steel plant in Kendrapara. Odisha government announced formation of Mission Shakti department to give a boost to SHGd in the State.
Sand Mafia tried to mow down Revenue inspector during a checking in Balasore district. Over 45 per cent of the Tehsils in Odisha report massive illegal sand mining, revealed Revenue Minister Sudam Marandi in State Assembly.
March 9, 2021: Twin city police commissioner Sudhanshu Sarangi shunted out. Government-appointed Soumendra Priyadarshi as new police commissioner.
March 10: Union Home Ministry report revealed Odisha had the second-highest IPS vacancies (72) in the country.
March 14: Odisha Assembly Speaker SN Patro ruled that BJP MLA Subhas Panigrahi should apologise for violating rules by attempting suicide in the House over mismanagement in paddy procurement. This issue paralysed State Assembly for nearly a week.
March 15: Odisha Government informed in State Assembly that grants for the Biju Yuva Vahini (BYV) sub-scheme have been discontinued from the financial year of 2021-22.
March 16: EC announces bypoll date for Pipili Assembly constituency. Odisha govt placed data on Covid expenses in Assembly. Rs 479 crore transferred to Private hospitals till Feb 3, 2021.
March 20: President Kovind made a 3-day visit to Odisha. Donated Rs 1 lakh to Srimandir Hundi.
The second wave took roots in Odisha. Cuttack joined the list of 70 hotspots districts in the country where cases were up by 150 percent in March. But the government was in denial mode. No decision on school closure was made.
March 22, 2021: Conjoined sibling Jaga was discharged from SCB Cuttack. Further treatment by expert doctors will be conducted in DHH Phulbani. Another sibling Balia died while under treatment.
Odia Films 'Sala Buddha Ro Badla', 'Kali Ro Atita' bagged award in feature films category National Film Awards. Sri Kshetra ru Sahijata won the award in the non-feature category.
March 23: Centre announced vaccination for all individuals above 45 years of age from April 1.
Odisha govt announced 15 percent quota in Medical and Engg college admission for students passed out from Odia-medium schools.
Odisha celebrated 100 years of Bapu's visit to Odisha.
March 31: Daily caseload touched 300-mark. Bhubaneswar emerged as a hotspot. But campaigning was underway in Pipili.