End of an era: Illustrious son of soil Bansidhar Panda no more

Bhubaneswar: Considered as the architect of modern industrial revolution in Odisha, noted industrialist and founder and chairman Emeritus of Indian Metals & Ferro Alloys Ltd (IMFA) Bansidhar Panda passed away at his Bhubaneswar residence on Tuesday. He was 87.

Many eminent personalities paid tributes to Bansidhar Panda at his residence after which his mortal remains were taken in an ambulance to his native village Madhuban under Barang block of Cuttack district. A pall of gloom descended on the village and many gathered to catch a final glimpse of Panda. Later, his body was consigned to flames at the village cremation ground by his elder son Baijayant Panda in presence of a huge gathering.

Born in 1931, Bansidhar Panda was instrumental in setting up industries that contributed to Odisha’s development in a big way. Panda is survived by his two sons Baijayant Panda, Subhrakant Panda and two daughters Paramita and Nita Ganapati.

A renowned research scientist, Bansidhar Panda had embarked upon a journey with a vision to bring industrial revolution after returning from the United States and chose Therubali, a remote outpost in the erstwhile undivided Koraput district of Odisha to give wings to his dreams and had set up IMFA in 1961.

Beyond business, he is also known for his philanthropic activities and love for literature. Much before the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Panda has been instrumental in instilling the culture of inclusive growth in IMFA.

Inspired by his vision for making a positive impact on the society, IMFA has been doing commendable work in the field of education, vocational training, basic healthcare, water and sanitation and infrastructure development. The Sarala Award for literature and Ekalabya Puruskar for sports, which were founded by IMFA under his leadership, are recognised as the highest achievements in the respective fields.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik expressed his grief over the demise of the renowned industrialist and conveyed his deep sympathy to the bereaved family.

Apart from the CM, political leaders cutting across party lines, including former Chief Minister Hemanand Biswal and OPCC chief Niranjan Patnaik expressed their condolence over Panda’s death.

“He was a path breaker. It is a great loss for Odisha as he was a ‘Bhismapitamaha’ in Odisha’s industrial revloution. His death is indeed a great loss for the State,” Kalinga Chamber of Commerce  and Industry President, Biswadev Das.

Das said, inspired by his vision, many industrialists had subsequently set up industries in the state.

When people were fearing to set up industries, Bansidhar Panda made a pioneering effort to establish the first ferro alloys plant in Odisha. Panda’s death is a great loss to the industry and members of Utkal Chamber of Commerce pay our deepest condolences to the bereaved family

-Ramesh Mohapatra, president, Utkal Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UCCI)

Dr. Panda received Degrees from Benaras Hindu University, Harvard University and Michigan Technological University.

Bansidhar Panda was conferred honoris causa or honorary degrees by the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Rourkela in 2015.

Expressing condolence over Panda’s death, senior journalist Dilip Satpathy said, “Bansidhar Panda had set up IMFA and was instrumental in putting Odisha on world map as far as industrial development was concerned. The way he took risk for setting such an industry was certainly commendable as it showed way to others. His contribution in all sectors will be always remembered.”

He was a successful entrepreneur. At a time when most of the people were thinking of doing jobs, Bansidhar Panda wanted to serve Odisha through his industry. His vision is certainly an inspiration for youths in the State

-Senior journalist Rajaram Satpathy.

Condoling Panda’s death, senior Journalist Rabi Das said, “IMFA’s contribution for Odisha’s development can never be forgotten and it was only due to Bansidhar Panda’s vision. He had changed the mindset of people of Odisha that business was only meant for people of other communities.”

Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, newly-elected Rajya Sabha member Achyuta Samanta and senior IAS officer Arvind Padhee also paid tributes to the great son of the soil.

Later in the day, after cremation of Bansidhar Panda, his son and MP Baijayant Panda tweeted, “My father Dr Bansidhar Panda passed away today at 87 after visiting his birthplace & praying to our Ishta Devata Nrusinghanath. We just cremated him amid several thousnd well wishers. During the day many came & paid last respects incl sr leaders of Congress, BJP & CPI”

Meanwhile, after CM Naveen Patnaik and BJD leaders failed to turn up to pay last respects to Bansidhar Panda, criticism poured in from various quarters.

“I heard neither Naveen Patnaik nor any BJD leader turned up. It is a shame that they are such mean-minded. A person like Bansidhar Panda who is a world-renowned industrialist passed away and you did not even come to pay tributes. We are totally shattered as none from the Odisha government came,” said senior Congress leader, Sura Routray.

“They have stooped to such a low level. They had not paid respect to Madhu Babu or any other person and today’s incident is also an example of it. Such disrespect is a very sad thing,” said freedom fighter, Padmacharan Nayak.

“It is not politics; it is utter lack of courtesy and humanity. Such a great industrialist died today but they did not turn up to pay tributes. This is height of meanness,” said BJP spokesperson Pitambar Acharya.