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BJP legislator spearheads Koshal slogan

By Prafulla Das

BHUBANESWAR, MARCH 6. All major political parties of Orissa are opposed to the demand for creation of a separate Koshal state, but the Bharatiya Janata Party legislator, Balgopal Mishra, has launched a campaign demanding such a state, comprising the 10 tribal-dominated districts of western Orissa.

A former Lok Sabha member from Bolangir, Mr. Mishra is touring the region in his `Koshal Mukti Rath' to generate public opinion in favour of his demand.

The `yatra' is to culminate with a public meeting at Sonepur on March 13.

Mr. Mishra's `yatra' however, faces opposition from his party and the leadership has openly denounced any move to bifurcate the State. The Chief Minister and Biju Janata Dal president, Naveen Patnaik, has criticised the move, describing Mr. Mishra as a political maverick with quaint ideas of his own.

However, notwithstanding the opposition, the Koshal slogan seems to be catching up in western Orissa, known for grinding poverty, starvation deaths, and stories of child sale. The region, comprising districts such as Bolangir, Nuapada and Kalahandi, has been struggling to overcome the problems in the fields of agriculture, road and rail communication, health and primary education.

While major irrigation projects are almost non-existent in the area, even minor projects and drip irrigation schemes do not appear to be doing well. Consequently, the region remains utterly backward, despite the Centre's efforts to boost its economy with a long-term action plan, popularly known as the KBK plan.

Apart from the political parties, various non-government organisations are also against the idea of division of the State.

``The Centre and the State Governments should give a serious thought and find solutions to the myriad problems facing the region. The demand for Koshal will go if corrective measures are taken to improve the lot of the hapless people,'' said Pradip Pradhan of the Humanity, an NGO working in Bolangir.

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