If you are like most people who only have an idea about Odisha, you may think of the state as an under-developed and probably cyclone-hit coastal land. Yet this supposedly ‘poor’ state is now on a mission to rescue a large half of the country, along with its capital city.
In these hours of peril, when almost 4 lakh fresh Covid cases are being registered in India each day, the entire country is reeling under the unprecedented second wave and gasping for precious oxygen. Be it Delhi, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, or Telangana, the lack of oxygen at hospitals has crippled the entire healthcare system and has emerged as one of the major challenges in the treatment of Covid patients. At such a juncture, Odisha, a state which is often neglected by the national media, has come to the forefront and emerged as a saviour for over seven states. For the past one week, Odisha has taken up the mantle of breathing into the state’s worst-hit by the oxygen shortage crisis upon herself.
Odisha police has also appointed a special officer to oversee and facilitate the smooth movement of the oxygen-laden vehicles to needy states. Senior IPS officer and present Law and Order ADGP, Yashwant Kumar Jethwa, has been appointed as the nodal officer to coordinate with other states and ensure transportation of oxygen with no hindrance. According to Jethwa, Odisha had sent 90 tankers carrying 1676 MT of the life-saving gas, by 27th April afternoon alone. The top cop also added that a special green corridor has been formed for the smooth movement of the tankers. The supply is being sent from four key localities: Rourkela in Sundargarh district, the Kalinga Nagar Industrial Zone of Jajpur district, Anugul and Dhenkanal, both of which are rich in mineral resources and industries.
Odisha’s response was preceded by the Chief Minister of the state Shri Naveen Patnaik’s talk with Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, on 22nd April when the CM assured of contributing as much as possible in this battle against the virus. At a time, when many state governments are prioritizing their own needs over their counterparts, Shri Patnaik’s immediate and unconditional help is being lauded across the nation. While several state governments are still engaged in the proverbial blame game with the Central government, Odisha’s CM has set an example of governance and diplomacy by rising over petty politics. Emerging as one of the more sensible leaders in these testing times, Shri Patnaik’s government has not only sailed the state well throughout the pandemic but also extended a helping hand whenever required. While this generous gesture has blessed the CM with thousands of unspoken words of gratitude, the Chief Ministers of Delhi and Maharashtra, among others, have come forward to publicly express their gratefulness.
Recd a call from Sh Naveen Patnaik ji. He has assured complete support to Delhi in facilitating lifting of Delhi’s quota of oxygen from Orissa. He has put a spl officer on the job.
Thank u sooo much Sir. Delhi is indeed grateful.
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) April 22, 2021
CM Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray spoke to CM @Naveen_Odisha ji today to thank him for helping in procurement & transportation of oxygen from Odisha to Maharashtra and for standing by each other in these crucial times, as one nation truly!@CMO_Odisha
— CMO Maharashtra (@CMOMaharashtra) April 22, 2021
The fact that his party, Biju Janata Dal, is in bitter opposition to the BJP in the state and yet Shri Patnaik has long maintained a cooperative and open stance with the Central government has elevated him above political slanders. Not only amid this Covid crisis but Naveen Patnaik is also known to have stepped in to help other states on several other occasions as well, including Telangana’s flash floods last year. The state itself is hit by natural disasters almost annually; Shri Patnaik’s preparedness paired with the efficiency of government institutions in Odisha has made it emerge triumphant over every problem. This can be well noted from the appreciation the government received for its exceptional response to the cyclones Fani and Phailin among others, responses that have been recognized as a model for disaster management programs globally.
The BJD has also proved to be one of the most constructive and sensible oppositions at the national level, having kept political differences aside to support the Central government’s initiatives in issues of national interests repeatedly. These very qualities have enabled Naveen Patnaik to be one of the longest-serving democratically elected leaders with an unbroken stint of over 21 years. It’s not for nothing that Shri Patnaik is widely regarded as India’s best CM not only within the country but also globally.
Yet, just like the moon having a dark side, there are still many who believe that this generosity is nothing but a publicity stunt. Apprehending that this move to supply oxygen to others may compromise the state’s own needs in the future, several eminent political leaders of the state have also claimed that the government is concealing facts and maintaining a facade just for the sake of building a larger than life image of Shri Patnaik. Even though the BJP and the BJD have maintained a cordial relationship in the center, the State General Secretary of BJP, Dr. Lekhashri Samantsinghar has accused the state government of irresponsibility and unpreparedness several times in the last few days alone.
ରାଜ୍ୟରେ ସ୍ୱାସ୍ଥ୍ୟ ସେବା ରସାତଳ ପହଁଚିଲାଣି.. ହେଲେ ମୁଖିଆ ଏଠି ପ୍ରଶଂସା ସାଉଁଟିବାରେ ବ୍ୟସ୍ତ… pic.twitter.com/dUImSsQoYe
— Lekha Samantsinghar (@DrLekhaShree) April 27, 2021
Taking to Twitter, Dr. Lekhashri lashed out at Shri Patnaik saying that he is busy amassing praises whereas the healthcare system of his state has reached its nadir. Notably, be it the Srirama Chandra Bhanja Medical College and Hospital (SCB) in Cuttack, the Maharaja Krushna Chandra Gajapati Medical College and Hospital (MKCG) in Brahmapur, or the Veer Surendra Sai Institute of Medical Sciences and Research (VIMSAR) in Sambalpur, none of the state’s prominent hospitals have their oxygen plants. Even within the state boundaries, some negative sentiments against the CM still run through the citizens. But the fact that he has dodged anti-incumbency for over two decades with the absolute majority says enough to refute any arguments tarnishing his persona.
Either way, this is a win for Shri Patnaik. If this is a political gimmick, it has achieved its desired result. And if this is pure goodwill and generosity, like most of us believe, the CM has garnered blessings and won the hearts of millions of countrymen. Shri Naveen Patnaik has indeed proved himself to be the true son of the Bhoomi Putra.
DISCLAIMER: This article reflects author’s view point. Goa Chronicle may or may not subscribe to views of the author
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