Mrunal Manmay Dash

The Naveen Patnaik-led Odisha government invited criticism from the Opposition and the people of Rourkela following reports that it spent 16 times more money for organising Hockey World Cup 2023 as compared to the 2018 edition of the event.

As per reports, the Odisha government spent Rs 1100 crore for hosting the grand event this year, 16 times more than Rs 67 crore, which was spent in 2018, when Odisha hosted its first ever Hockey World Cup.

As far as the break up goes, Rs 875.78 crore was spent for construction of the brand new Birsa Munda stadium in Rourkela and renovation of Kalinga stadium in Bhubaneswar, Rs 84 crore for construction of accommodation building, Rs 10.5 crore for the peripheral development of Rourkela, Rs 17.5 crore for synthetic turfs at Birsa Munda and Kalinga stadiums, and Rs 75 crore for branding and media publicity.

While the sum far exceeds what was spent during 2018 WC, the Opposition is particularly miffed over the source of the money, which is the DMF (District Mineral Foundation).

The Opposition alleged that while there are welfare projects pending completion since decades, diverting so much money from the DMF for a sports event is simply irresponsible. The BJP even went on to term the spending as illegal.

Speaking to the reporters, the Leader of Opposition, Jayanarayan Mishra said, “Odisha government did not spend a penny for Birsa Munda Stadium. In fact, all the money was spent from the DMF bending the rules in their favour. However, the ruling BJD has left no stone unturned to take all the credit for the stadium.”

“Hockey World Cup has started from today. We should not discuss all those allegations. People should be happy that a stadium has been built. This is not a right time to discuss the source of that money. Rest assured that no rules were broken and no money is misutilised for this event,” said BJD MP, Munna Khan.

As per the DMF norms, the fund collected can only be used for providing drinking water, to arrest air pollution, development of health and educational infrastructure, welfare of women and children, skill development and home construction in the mining affected districts.

The locals are of the opinion that spending for sports development is alright, but it should not come at the cost of neglecting basic amenities meant for the people, like the under construction railway over bridge at Rajgangpur which has been lying incomplete since three decades.

Similarly, a 2003 announcement to establish a medical college at Kuanrmunda by CM Naveen Patnaik is yet to see the light of the day. Apart from that, Patnaik had also announced a ring road and barrage over Koel river during 2014 election campaigning. Sadly, even after 10 years of the announcement, the project is just limited to installation of a plaque.

“When they can erect such a huge stadium (Birsa Munda) in just 15 months, why it is that the same government takes decades to complete welfare projects,” asked, Asish Satapathy, a Rajgangpur local.

(Reported By Biswaketan Ray & Harihar Chand, OTV)