Bhubaneswar: Ahead of elections to the Sambalpur municipal corporation, the BJD government today set aside its earlier recommendation of setting up the proposed Indian Institute of Management (IIM) here and sought to establish the premier management institute at Sambalpur, if the Centre relaxes norms.
"If the Central government is willing to relax the guidelines for site selection, the State government strongly recommends Sambalpur in western Odisha as the location of the IIM, Odisha," chief minister Naveen Patnaik wrote to Union Human Resources Development minister Smriti Zubin Irani.
Patnaik's letter to Irani was in response to a recent letter from the HRD ministry where it sought opinion of the State government for setting up of the IIM in western Odisha, particularly in Sambalpur region, as has received a number of representations in this regard.
The State government had earlier selected Bhubaneswar as, according to HRD ministry's guideline, location of an IIM should be close to an airport.
Patnaik said the HRD's guidelines had, in fact, restricted the State government's choice due to lack of airport facility in any other place than Bhubaneswar. "I would like to inform you that while recommending the sites for IIM, the State government was constrained by the fact that the location should be close to an airport as per guidelines circulated by the HRD ministry," he said in the letter.
However, the opposition parties Congress and BJP smelt politics in the Naveen government’s move.
"The Central government had asked them to identify three places to set up an IIM in Odisha. But it identified two places in Bhubaneswar, ignoring the demand of Sambalpur. As Sambalpur will go to polls soon, there is a political intention behind the letter of the CM," said BJP spokesperson Suresh Pujari.
Echoing similar sentiments, Congress leader Pradip Majhi said Patnaik has embarked on election campaigning for Sambalpur and today’s move is only a part of it.
Recently, Patnaik announced Rs 1,600 crore for various development projects in Sambalpur and also laid the foundation stones of various projects.