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Land takes toll on institute

- Organisation continues to run out of rented house

Cuttack, Dec. 18: Named after one of the architects of modern Odisha and father of the present chief minister, the Biju Patnaik National Steel Institute, set up by the Union steel ministry, in Puri over a decade ago continues to run out of rented premises.

The plight of the super-speciality technical institute offering courses in iron and steel manufacturing and plant management has come into focus with a PIL being filed in Orissa High Court seeking allotment of land for the institute.

However, the PIL filed by the Puri-based State Public Interest Protection Council, Balasore-based Kansa Bansa Sanskrutika Parishad and three other residents of Balasore and Cuttack has not yet been taken up for hearing. The petitioners have sought a direction from the court to the state government to expedite allotment of land for the institute’s permanent premises.

Aimed to create trained manpower in steel sector, the institute has been offering a one-and-a-half year advanced certificate course on iron and steel manufacturing and plant management since January 2002 for 40 students. Because of space crunch, it takes only 30 participants. It has plans to offer degree and postgraduate diploma courses.

“As the land has not been made available, the institute has been suffering financial loss towards house rent and other ancillary expenses. Besides, the students are suffering owing to want of laboratory, tools and machineries along with proper classrooms,” the PIL contends.

According to the petition, the institute’s foundation stone was laid on January 1, 2001, by the erstwhile chief minister of Odisha after the state government had earmarked 22.5 acres for it on the outskirts of Puri town on the side of Puri-Konark marine drive road.

Later, though construction of boundary wall had been started, the local divisional forest officer prohibited it on the ground that the patch of land was coming under the Balukhand Wildlife Sanctuary limits.

Though the Puri collector requested the state environment department in February 2004 to exclude the land from the sanctuary area, no action followed.

In 2008, the state government assured allotment of land for the institute at Jagannathpur under Balianta tehsil in Khurda district.

Responding to it, the Union ministry of steel agreed to the proposal and complied with all the required formalities to facilitate handing over possession of the land.

“But unfortunately, the matter is still pending with the state government for finalisation,” the petition states.

“Besides academics, the institute was set up to foster higher and more efficient production of steel by providing technical consultancy to the steel plants for implementing energy efficient manufacturing process. But, because of the state government’s inaction over providing land for a permanent premises, such a big and important project has suffered a huge set back,” the PIL contends.