Odisha made news for wrong reasons in 2016
Odisha was in the news in 2016 mostly for wrong reasons like Japanese Encephalitis claiming over 100 lives, malnutrition killing infants, a sex scandal, water war with Chhattisgarh, farmers’ woes et al.india Updated: Dec 22, 2016 13:27 IST
Odisha was in the news in 2016 mostly for wrong reasons like Japanese Encephalitis claiming over 100 lives, malnutrition killing infants, a sex scandal, water war with Chhattisgarh, farmers’ woes et al.
The Naveen Patnaik government faced embarrassing moments as the story of Dana Majhi, a poor tribal who had to walk over 10 km carrying his wife’s body on his shoulder from a government hospital in backward Kalahandi district after being denied a hearse in August, made international news.
As the poor healthcare sector in the state stood exposed, financial help poured in from many quarters for 45-year-old Majhi, whose wife had died of TB at the hospital, while an educational institute offered free education to his three daughters in Bhubaneswar.
The BJD government was under attack throughout the year as many other issues including death of 25 people in a hospital fire in Bhubaneswar, high infant and maternal mortality rates, corruption and power crisis armed Opposition Congress and BJP with enough ammo.
In the words of state Odisha Congress chief Prasad Harichandan and BJP state president Basant Panda, the BJD government failed on all fronts and healthcare, education, and law and order machinery collapsed.
On its part, BJD, which is in its fourth term in power, accused the Centre of neglecting the state by slashing funds and claimed that its government is ably handling all issues.
The Opposition claimed that healthcare crumbled in the state saying more than 100 children died due to Japanese Encephalitis in tribal-dominated Malkangiri district in a span of about two months. The disease rapidly spread and six of the seven blocks of the district were badly hit.
The state government also drew flak following the death of at least 19 infants due to alleged malnutrition at Nagada village in mineral-rich Jajpur district within a short span during June-July.
Another tragedy which evoked widespread condemnation and outcry was the killing of five civilians, including three tribals and a child, in alleged firing by security forces on July 8 at Gumudumaha in Kandhamal district.
While Patnaik, who holds the home portfolio, came under sharp attack for the incident, politicians made a beeline to the nondescript village alleging high-handedness. Rattled by brickbats from many quarters, the state government ordered a probe by a special investigation team (SIT).
Yet another act of BJD government which drew severe criticism from many spheres was its handling of Mahanadi river water issue with neighbouring Chhattisgarh. BJD was up in arms demanding stoppage of construction of dams and barrages in upper reaches of Mahanadi in Chhattisgarh saying the projects would drastically reduce water flow into Odisha, hitting hard agricultural, industrial and other activities.
Though the state government claimed it was kept in the dark about the projects over the river, considered as the lifeline of Odisha, Opposition parties lashed out at it saying it was well aware of the plans chalked out by Chhattisgarh way back in 2000.