Drought, deluge dog state in 2011

Drought, deluge dog state in 2011

The year 2011 was a memorable one for Odisha. While the long awaited renaming of the state from Orissa to Odisha finally materialised, the state reeled under two floods and a drought.

Denizens and socio-cultural organisation had since long been advocating the name change, contesting that the state was originally called Odisha.

It was the Britishers who renamed it Orissa for their convenience. The common man’s sentiments finally succeeded in cutting through all the bureaucracy, with the state Assembly passing an all-party resolution.

The Parliament unanimously adopted a constitutional amendment bill to restore the state’s original name. After 75 long years of its creation, Orissa finally became Odisha on November 1 when the Centre issued a gazette notification in this regard, following an approval from the President Pratibha Patil.

The change evoked mixed responses though. While the pro-Odisha camp exalted, others opined the rechristening was needless, given the exercise would not make much of a difference to the youth with a global mindset.

Successive natural calamities took its toll on the state in the middle of the year. Monsoon eluded till end of August, forcing the state government to declare drought in more than half of the 30 revenue districts.

The government was about to declare a special drought package for the drought-hit farmers when heavy rain lashed the state in the first week of September, triggering flood in Mahanadi and its tributaries. The floods, one of the worst to hit the state, affected over 30 lakh people in as many as 19 districts.

The deluge rendered thousands homeless besides claiming more than 50 lives.

As if one flood was not enough, the state was devastated by yet another flood within a span just two weeks.

2011 remained an year of mixed fortunes for the political parties in the state, particularly the two major players - the ruling Biju Janata Dal and the Congress, the principal opposition.

In the first half of the year, the Naveen Patnaik led BJD government was hit by a number scams. In fact, in February senior BJD leader Pramila Mallick had to quit the state cabinet surfaced in her Women and Child Welfare department came to the fore.

However, the second half of the year saw the ruling party reclaiming the lost grounds, with a spectacular victory in the by-election for the Umerkote Assembly seat in Nabarangpur district.

 The state unit of the Congress got a new leader when party high command appointed former state minister Niranjan Patnaik as the Pradesh Congress Committee chief.
The appointment enthused the party workers to work towards rebuilding the party’s image with greater zeal.

However, the move failed to generate political leverage, with Congress claiming the third position in the Umerkote by-election.

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