2019 Vox Populi: Angul


By Charudutta Panigrahi
On April 1, 1993, Odisha became 30 districts and Angul was one of them. The ‘rich’ district includes Angul Sub -Division and three former princely states namely Talcher, Pallahara and Athmallik. It is the face of transforming India – from a place with early stone age relevance, it has metamorphosed to a bustling industrial hub in Asia.
Angul is literally at the heart of Odisha, situated quite in the middle and is known globally as the ‘coal reservoir of Asia’, which contributes over 20% of India’s total non-cooking coal supply. This has attracted almost all of the major PSUs and Private sector industries in thermal power, aluminium, steel, water and coal sectors. NALCO is the jewel in the crown.
There are more than 3500 SMEs in the district which employ slightly more than 11000 daily workers. Owing to the large number of industries, SMEs, and ancillary units, Angul is often referred to as the ‘industry capital’ of Odisha by many. However, the infusion of mega-scale capital in the area and the resulting business growth has not resulted in quality of life enhancement in the district. In all the eight blocks – Talcher, Kaniha, Pallahara, Athmallick, Angul, Chhndipada, Banarpal and Kishorenagar, the
number of youths unemployed exceeds 5000 at any given point. Job fairs are being held in the district and the companies fail to get enough skilled youths for their openings.
Due to the presence of the large down-stream industries Angul’s GDP per capita has increased, from Rs 39,000 to Rs 101,000 in about a decade. Even the lowest income group in Angul has decreased from 67% in 2002 to a mere 25% in 2012 and is expected to be less than 5% by 2025. But Angul’s large tribal
youth population has not been reached to be empowered and made ready to join the workforce.
• Local Youth Engagement: Component of local youth in the workforce is in the range of meagre 30%. The Paudi Bhuyan PVTG expects to be covered by the welfare schemes of the state.
• Vanishing Forest: Angul’s rich forest area is dwindling rapidly. It was about 45% of total geographical area of the district, a decade ago. Now it is less than 30%. It is interesting to note that Angul Forest Division is the oldest in the state, established in 1885
• Melting pot: Angul is the ridge between west & east Odisha and hence the rich cultural heritage of Angul should be promoted through local groups. The political class and the district
authorities could make the local people conscious of their heritage and keep the pristine cultural identity intact. The youths should not face any crisis of entity, feeling rudderless in the midst of rapid industrialisation and still dominant, agriculture based rural life. The civil society of Angul to give special attention to cultural amalgamation, while preserving the specificities.
What’s in a name?
The name of Angul has a story behind it. L.S.S.O’.Malley narrates, that “the name Angul is said to be a corruption of Anugol, and is explained by the following legend. Formerly, it is said, the country was occupied by aboriginal tribes, such as the Khonds, Savara and Gonds, the dominant race being the Khonds. It was divided into a number of independent principalities, each governed by a Khond sardar or chief, but at last the King of Odisha succeeded in establishing his rule over the Khonds, who acknowledged his suzerainty by paying him tribute. The last Khond sardar was a chieftain named Anu, who withheld the tribute and broke out in rebellion. A political plan was hatched against Anu, and in
the struggle which ensued he was deposed by means of a gol, i.e., a battle or plot. In commemoration of their conquest the place was called Anugol. Over the years it has been called Anugula or Anugol.
The number of voters in Angul Assembly constituency is about 196200, out of which almost half are in the ages below 35.
Angul’s industrialisation is an example of rising India and the metamorphosis of Odisha in the 2000s.
But now the time has come to provide direction to the youths of the district, handhold them in gainful employment opportunities and provide practical support in self- employment. In the last four years Rs. 421 Cr has been spent under CSR in Angul, out of which over Rs. 346 Cr has been spent on Education & Skill Development. Isn’t it time to assess the results?