Vikash Sharma

First 34 and later one more place in Odisha was accorded the Notified Area Council (NAC) status. Birmaharajpur town in Sonepur district got the NAC status on Monday. However, there seems to be no let-up in the ongoing agitations that have been continuing at places that have been excluded from the list of 35 new NACs in the state.

From observing bandhs to protests and even poll boycott threats, the agitators in different parts of the state are trying to vent out their anger. The situation is such that people are blaming local MLAs for such partiality in granting NAC status. Under such circumstances, will the NAC announcement boomerang for the ruling BJD as it is said it has been done eyeing the upcoming elections.

Was such an announcement made by the state government in a haphazard manner before the model code of conduct? Were the NACs announced as per eligibility and requirements? How far the government will be able to pacify the resentment among people over alleged partiality?

It is pertinent to mention here that despite CM Naveen Patnaik’s assurance, Manamunda in Boudh district failed to get included in the newly announced NAC list. As a result, a bandh was observed by the Kriyanusthan Committee on Monday, a day after Biramaharajpur was accorded the NAC status. Due to the bandh, all the shops and commercial establishments remained closed. Hundreds of vehicles were stranded on the Khordha-Bolangir NH 57 today.

A bandh call has also been given at Bangomunda in Bolangir and Subalaya in Sonepur district tomorrow demanding NAC status. Locals in Bamra in Sambalpur district will also observe a 12-hour bandh on February 28.

Durga Prasad Mishra of Bamra Citizen’s Forum said, “It has been 10 years that we have been demanding NAC status for Bamra. We have fulfilled all criteria since 2011. The Govindpur gram panchayat will boycott polls and Bamra will remain closed.”

BJP and Congress today targeted the Odisha government at a presser held at Khaira in Balasore district. Despite Khaira block having eligibility with 37 panchayats, it is alleged that Simulia was accorded NAC status as the MLA belongs to the area. No comments were received from the BJD or MLA Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi.

BJP leader Padmalochan Panda said, “We have nothing to say if Simulia gets NAC status. But we want the MLA who has made the announcement should also declare Khaira as NAC before the model code of conduct.”

Congress burnt effigies of CM Naveen Patnaik and Energy Minister Pratap Deb after Aul and Kanika were excluded from the newly announced NAC list.

Former Congress MLA, Debendra Sharma said, “We deserve to get NAC status. But Aul and Kanika were neglected.”

Energy Minister and Aul MLA, Pratap Deb said, “Facilities are now given and decision will be taken at the right time. The opposition doesn’t have anything other than staging protest.”

BJP Spokesperson, Pitambar Acharya today levelled serious allegations against the Odisha government. He said that such NAC announcements are illegal and unconstitutional as they have been done without public hearings.

“The NAC announcement is only eyewash. This is not the process for 35 new NACs but the government has created a ground for 35 new court cases. We will also move the Election Commission,” said Acharya.

Responding to this, senior BJD leader, Ramesh Chandra Chyau Patnaik said, “Developmental works can be speeded up through NACs and municipalities. It has nothing to do with elections. The work is going on under CM Naveen Patnaik's leadership.”

(By OdishaTV Bureau)