Report by Badal Tah; Rayagada: Several civil society bodies of Rayagada district namely Nagarika Manch, Odisha Adibasi Manch, Zilla Sambadika Sangha, Merchants Association, Kalinga Vaishya Sangham, Utkal Pradeshik Marwari Sammelan, Utkal Andhra Brahman Seva Samajam, Rayagada Bar Association, Lions Club of Rayagada, Walkers Club, Kalyan Vekateswara Swamy Devasthanam, District Rice Millers Association, Daily Market Association have started writing to CM Naveen Pattanaik with copies to PM Modi, Health Ministers and health secretaries at both state and centre, Rayagada Collector, etc demanding for a Government medical college at Rayagada. Representatives of all these bodies assembled in the local Venkateswar Kalyan Mandap to reflect upon the mass rally from Jagannath Temple to Collectorate accompanied by Sri Saptagiri Ulaka, MP and leaders across all political parties demanding a government medical college in Rayagada. A memorandum was submitted to CM Naveen Pattanayak through the district collector.
Many of the participants acknowledged the good intention of Odisha Govt to have identified Rayagada district for a Medical College in Public Private Partnership(PPP) mode by floating bid through Request for Qualification during 2011 and 2014. Even the then Health Minister Sri Atanu Sabyasachi during 2014 declared in the assembly that 20-25 acres of land had been identified and would be given free of cost to the highest bidder alongwith financial assistance from GOI’s viability gap funding. Unfortunately both the times this could not be materialised because of lack of a strong political will and resentment from the public, opined Sri A K Sharda, a noted environmentalist and industrialist associated with JK Paper Mills for a long time in Rayagada. According to him the bunch of letters, notifications, RFQs, bids, etc from Govt amply clarifies a strong claim of Rayagada for a medical college and the things have to seen in that context.
A road map has been conceived and strategies evolved to take this campaign to its logical end.” All the civil society bodies of Rayagada will write to CM, PM, health ministers & secretaries in their individual letter heads, hoardings and banners by individual organisations will be put in prominent places, the MLAs and MPs of this district to be met and requested to raise questions in Assembly and Parliament, the PRIs at block levels to take written resolutions and to send the same to concerned authorities, the general public and specially the college students to be involved through pamphlets, leaflets, stickers, a core committee meeting & representing the CM, PM, Health Secretaries, etc. If need be, a Rayagada Bandh, a relay hunger strike & ultimately a hunger strike can also be explored”, said Sri Chandra Mouli Kumundan, Coordinator of this campaign called “Action Committee for demanding a Govt Medical College in Rayagada”.
According to Sri Rabindra Patakhandal, General secretary of Zilla sambadika Sangha,”The atmosphere is really conducive now for a medical college in Rayagada. The GOI has planned for 75 medical colleges out of which 26 are approved for the states; but Odisha has not got a single one as it has not sent any Detailed Project Report(DPR). So there is no dearth of finance. There is no dearth of land. We are a bit late in coming together and putting forward a genuine demand which is long due for needy and befitting tribal area like Rayagada.
“We are already late in demanding. We have a district hospital with a potentiality of 300+ beds. The Medical College can be established at half the cost”, said late Dr S P Padhi, who sent a message to this correspondent while in Bangalore for treatment of cancer.
Accordingly, several local institutions have started putting their one point demand in writing for the medical college. Sri Sapatagiri Ulaka has written to CM, Odisha and Health Minister, GOI. On his request Smt Sonia Gandhi has also put forward Ulaka’s point to Health Minister Sri Vardhan. Saptagiri has also raised a question in the Parliament and demanded a medical college. According to Ulaka, the state needs to send a DPR immediately to GOI. Ulaka’s effort has really been commendable. Rayagada MLA Sri Makaranda Muduli has recently discussed about this in the state assembly and has been assured by Sri Naba Das, Health Minister, Govt of Odisha. Minister Sri Jagannath Saraka, MLA Sri Raghunath Gomango also have met the CM Pattanaik and put forth a request for a medical college. The core committee members also have met Sri N Bhaskar Rao, MP, Rajya Sabha and Sri Sudhir Das, Advisor, Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana and persuaded them to fix an appointment with CM Naveen Pattanaik.
“This time we do not want to miss the bus. We have four established industries, which have stake in this district and they have great roles to play. We also have an Ex-CM, two MPs, two MLAs, a state health advisor and a Minister from this district. These people’s representatives alongwith PRI members further need to take this issue vigorously. We also have two Ex-Collectors who are at the helm of affairs in the Health & Family Welfare Deptt, Govt of Odisha. If the road map is followed up sincerely, I am optimistic and see rays of hope”, said Sri Gobinda Rath, a prominent educationist of the district.