Sambalpur Municipality. Telegraph picture
Bhubaneswar, Sept. 24: The Sambalpur Municipality is set for a status upgrade. The city will shortly become the fourth corporation in the state after Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Berhampur.
The state government today gave its nod to a proposal in this regard.
“Keeping a long-standing demand of local people in mind, it was decided that the Sambalpur municipality will be converted into a corporation. The housing and urban development department has been directed to initiate steps in this regard,” said finance minister Prasanna Acharya after a meeting convened by chief minister Naveen Patnaik. The official process to this effect will be initiated in the first week of October, sources said.
An official announcement said the proposed corporation would include Burla and Hirakud Notified Area Councils (NAC), along with 12 gram panchayats adjoining the district headquarters.
Five panchayats of Maneswar block and seven panchayats of Dhanakauda block will be included in the proposed corporation.
The state government initiated the move after the population of the district town and adjoining areas crossed the three-lakh mark, which is mandatory for a corporation.
According to the projected census of 2011, Sambalpur town has a population of 1,83,383, the Burla Notified Area Council 48,217 and the Hirakud Notified Area Council 30,000. After merger of the 12 panchayats, the population of the proposed corporation area will be 3,35,761.
Once it gets the corporation status, it can use central government grants for various development projects, including roads and health care.
The Opposition, however, said the move sought to divert the attention of people in the wake of the ongoing agitation by western Odisha lawyers for a separate bench of the Orissa High Court in the region. “Its a diversionary tactic,” said Congress MP Amar Pradhan, while former chairman of the Sambalpur Municipality and BJP spokesperson Suresh Pujari welcomed the move.
Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh, however, said: “The BJD should stop playing vote bank politics.”