Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is seen very keen in protecting the interest of POSCO; but come the question of protecting the interest of Orissa, one feels, he should know how not to be nonchalant.

Orissa has been severely hit by an order of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who has reversed the central government decision to establish a National Institute of Sciences (NIS) at Bhubaneswar. The reversal smacks of Bengali conspiracy against Orissa. But Patnaik has failed to rise to the occasion. He must reverse his own attitude and address himself to the cause of Orissa in a way expected of a Chief Minister.

We have earlier discussed the issue in these pages. The Chief Minister must try to understand the issue and take up the matter with the Prime Minister Mr. Singh in right earnest and if Mr. Singh does not buzz, must join the mass campaign that patriots of Orissa have already started.

For him to understand the issue we may begin from December 09, 2003. On this day, the then HRD Minister of India, Dr. M. M. Joshi had told the Parliamentary Consultative Committee attached to his ministry that a decision had been taken to establish four NISs including one at Bhubaneswar �for improving the relevance and quality of teaching and research� in science, which was put on records by the U.G.C. vide http://www.ugc.ac.in/pub/jan_2004/12.htm. It makes it abundantly clear that the decision to establish a NIS at Bhubaneswar had been taken by the Union Government and the Parliament of India was made a witness to this decision through its Committee comprising members of both the Houses.

When the decision was awaiting execution, a media report informed that there is possibility of shifting of the proposed site of NIS from Bhubaneswar to Kolkata.

Chief Minister Patnaik was asked for comments. He told the Press that his Government has already located necessary land for the Institute and informed the Center accordingly and hence there is no question of its shifting. He, however, assured that he will take up the matter with the Center and do every needful for execution of its earlier decision.

What has he done in the matter is not known either to the department of higher education or to the department of science & technology. But on September 28, 2005, the Press Information Bureau vide http://pib.nic.in/release/release.asp?relid=12305 informed that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has cleared on the same day an Indian Institute of Science for Education and Research (IISER) for Kolkata and has �authorized� the Ministry of HRD to fund the Institute �so that it can become operational in 2006�.

Difference in nomenclature notwithstanding, this suggesting a sure shift of the NIS from Bhubaneswar to Kolkata, the NROs, specifically members of the �ODIA SAMAJA� group of netizens under stewardship of Prof.. Chitta Baral and Prof. Debasmita Mishra started submitting their protests online.

Orissamatters.com preceded mainstream newspapers of Orissa like the Sambad and the Samaj in questioning the prudence of the Prime Minister in withdrawal of the NIS from Bhubaneswar.

But as I proceeded to see what steps our State Government has taken in the matter, I was shocked to see that the Government has neither located nor offered any land for the purpose within these two years. As I could not get any information from the secretaries of both the above-mentioned departments, I preferred a letter by e-mail to the Chief Secretary in his official id seeking information on what step the state government had taken to facilitate establishment of the NIS. A copy thereof was sent to CMO. It is a matter of surprise and shock that none of the two top functionaries have shown the courtesy of responding to a necessary and proper query from an authorized person, who has been in journalism for last four decades, specifically when the query was made in State interest. Such recalcitrant has become our administration!

In these pages, we had discussed the issue on October 07 under the caption �Under whose spell the Prime Minister has done it?� and we have the pleasure of saying that on this Vijaya Dasami, which is the day of success of battle against evil, we have carried another article from Prof. Chitta Baral who has been spearheading the campaign seeking implementation of Union Government�s original decision for establishment of a NIS/IISER at Bhubaneswar.

We strongly recommend Prof. Baral�s article captioned �Why an NIS/IISER/IIT should be established in Bhubaneswar?� to the Chief Minister. He should equip himself with all the facts and personally meet the Prime Minister for the specific purpose of placing Orissa�s case for NIS/IISER. The Prime Minister of India cannot act and cannot be allowed to act arbitrarily. The previous Government had taken the decision to establish a NIS in Bhubaneswar and had involved the Parliament with this decision by placing it before the consulting Committee. Therefore the Prime Minister cannot render that decision inconsequential. Patnaik must go and tell him of this. If Mr. Singh refuses to heed to Orissa�s just demand, Patnaik must rise to the occasion and place the matter before all the chief ministers of the Country. One province cannot be allowed to hijack the project originally meant for another province and the Chief Ministers of the country must be made aware of its adverse impact on regional balance and national integration.