Odisha towns scramble for new IIM

Four districts look to wrest institute from Bhubaneswar

A fierce competition has begun among towns in Odisha for the campus of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) that is proposed to come up in the state. 

 

Besides state capital Bhubaneswar, other towns which have thrown their hats in the ring include Berhampur, a major business hub in southern Odisha Ganjam district, and three western Odisha towns—Sambalpur, Bolangir and Rourkela.

Some of these towns have already formed special platforms and citizens’ groups to put pressure on the state and Central governments to this end.

Odisha was one of the states granted new IIMs in the previous Union budget. The Central government’s Human Resources Development Ministry has already sent a communication to the state government on site-selection procedures.

The citizens of Berhampur have formed an organisation called the “Berhampur Forum for IIM”, whose representatives recently met Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik here to convey their demand.

Their argument was that despite being areas of repute in southern Odisha, neither the town of Berhampur nor the Ganjam district have a national-level institution. 

As capital Bhubaneswar is already home to a number of national institutions like an IIT, an AIIMS and the XIMB, the IIM should be granted to Berhampur or any other place in the Ganjam district. 

Ganjam is Patnaik’s home district. A similar argument has been made by the representatives of a pressure group from the western Odisha town of Sambalpur, who too recently met the chief minister. 

According to them, Sambalpur has an additional advantage as it will soon have an airport—an important requirement noted by the HRD Ministry for the IIM campus—nearby.

The Odisha government had recently signed an MoU with the Airports Authority of India for a second airport in the state at Jharsuguda, about 60 km from Sambalpur. Currently, Bhubaneswar has the sole airport in the state.

Bolangir’s argument is that the new IIM should be in that western Odisha town for the overall development of the KBK (Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput) region—one of the most backward areas in the country.

The Rourkela Jagaran Manch, a local organisation based in the steel township, recently submitted a memorandum to Patnaik and Prime Minister Narendra Modi through the local deputy collector demanding the IIM campus.

As it has become a sensitive issue, political parties—particularly the BJD and the BJP, the ruling dispensations in the state and at the Centre, respectively—seem to be treading carefully on the matter. 

“The right location for the new IIM will be chosen in consultation with the state government, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan”, who was on an official visit to his home state, told reporters here on Friday. Pradhan, known to be close to Modi, is expected to have a major say in the matter. 

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