"Koshal State : Smaller State, Better Governance - The Need of the Hour"

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"JAI JAWAN, JAI KISHAN" - Shri Lal Bahadur Sastri, Former PM of India 1965.

But in 2015- 2017, 130 plus farmers lost their lives due to drought, scarcity of water, loan debt and poor governance in western region of Odisha.

 

Introduction

KOSHAL STATE IS THE LONG STANDING DEMAND OF WESTERN REGION OF ODISHA. THE DEMAND IS IN ACCORDANCE WITH ARTICLE 2 AND 3 OF INDIAN CONSTITUTION(Quoted Below). 

"3. Formation of new States and alteration of areas, boundaries or names of existing States: Parliament may by law
(a) form a new State by separation of territory from any State or by uniting two or more States or parts of States or by uniting any territory to a part of any State;
(b) increase the area of any State;
(c) diminish the area of any State;
(d) alter the boundaries of any State;
(e) alter the name of any State; Provided that no Bill for the purpose shall be introduced in either House of Parliament except on the recommendation of the President and unless, where the proposal contained in the Bill affects the area, boundaries or name of any of the States, the Bill has been referred by the President to the Legislature of that State for expressing its views thereon within such period as may be specified in the reference or within such further period as the President may allow and the period so specified or allowed has expired Explanation I In this article, in clauses (a) to (e), State includes a Union territory, but in the proviso, State does not include a Union territory Explanation II The power conferred on Parliament by clause (a) includes the power to form a new State or Union territory by uniting a part of any State or Union territory to any other State or Union territory"

 

Why  Western Odisha Districts were in news recently ??

and many more. But its worthmentioning that all of the above are on poverty, drought, loan debt, poor health services.

 

What happened in 2016 so far...

Notably, the Koshal State Coordination Committee comprising representatives of organisations in 10 districts has called a 12-hour bandh in Western Odisha on 26 August 2016 demanding separate State status for the Koshal region. 

  Normal life was hit due to the bandh call in Balangir. Koshal activists picketed in different parts of the town. The bandh was also total in Kantabanji, Titilagarh, Patnagarh, Bangomunda, Sindhekela, Chudapali, Saintala, Belpada, Turekela, Muribahal area of Balangir district.

 Protest and demands are not only seen in various places of Western Odisha but it has spread to cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Delhi under the banner of Kosal Sena. The activities of Kosal Sena is praiseworthy in uniting the people of western odisha for the cause. Kosal Sena Team comprises of IT professional from leading IT firms.  They are the one who have taken this initiative for the revolution which is to be achieved soon.

 Kosal Sena Banglore Wing has been formed followed by Kosal Sena Delhi with the mission "Koshal at any cost". Sudipta Kumar Panda,Balmiki Pradhan,Satyajit Nayak,Asutosh Tripathy,Prabhat Mishra,Fanindra Sa , Mahesh Panda are the core members of Bangalore Wing.

Members of Kosal Sena Bangalore had also protested during Odisha CM Mr. Naveen Pattnaik's Bangalore Tour. They had demanded a quick action on Dana Majhi Case and also better healthcare facilities for Western Odisha.

April 1 Utkal Divas was celebrated as Black Day throughout Western Odisha. Bike rallies and non violent protests have been reported.

The Bangalore Wing of Kosal Sena had also observed April 1 as Black Day. Members have also participated in non violent protest and bike rallies.

A National Level Symposium was organised at Bangalore on 2nd April 2017 by the Bangalore Wing of Koshal Sena led by Sudipta Kumar Panda. People of Western Odisha who are staying outside Odisha and Members of Kosal Sena from Hyderabad, Pune, Delhi along with Padmanava Pradhan from DRDO Hyderabad and Sameer Panda CEO of TJ Tyres had joined the symposium.

8th April 2017, State Level Youth Conference was organised at Bargarh under the banner of Koshal State Coordination Committee. Leaders of Telengana Joint Action Committee Prof. K. Venkatswami and Prof. Bhaskar Rao and Coordinators of KSCC Pramod Mishra and Sunil Purohit interacted with youths of Koshal. Koshal Youth Coordination Committee was also constitued. A resolution was taken to boycott the elections until the government takes step for formation of Koshal State. Subsequently conferences were organised in Balangir and Sonepur.

The members of Bhubaneswar based Western Odisha Yuva Manch demanded the formation of Kosal State infront of Hon'ble Prime Minister Sj. Narendra Modi. They showed him placards during the his road show at Bhubaneswar on occasion of BJP National Executive Meet on 15th April 2017.

 

What is Koshal State.

People of the "Koshal region" of India are demanding a politically separate Koshal state. Political parties, intelligentsia and various social organisations have banded together to rally popular support, frequently capturing news headlines of both state and national print and visual media.Support is widespread, as public protests and submission of memorandums to the government are reported in Athamallick, Balangir, Bargarh, Boudh, Jharsuguda, Kalahandi,l Nuapada, Sambalpur, Sonepur, and Sundargarh.

Origin of the separate statehood demand

The demand for the Koshal state in Orissa has risen mostly because of the prolonged underdevelopment and backwardness of this region. The state government is not doing enough for the development of Koshal region, although this area is full of mineral and natural resources. In the case of Orissa, the process of economic growth has been regionally lopsided during the last 50 years.

 The coastal region has benefited mostly from the economic policies pursued by the state, the Koshal region remains neglected, marginalised, and deprived WODC : Western Orissa Development Council. The regional imbalances have been to such an extent that news of starvation, child-selling for rice, large-scale illiteracy, malnutrition, distressed out-migration, etc., are normal occurrences in the Koshal region.

 To rectify the regional imbalance between coastal Orissa and Koshal region, Orissa Government has established a Western Orissa Development Council (WODC). However, the budget allotted to this council is a small fraction of the total budget of Orissa. With this small fraction of budget a large Koshal region will never develop like coastal Orissa. Similarly politics is being played for KBK and WODC headquarters. KBK and WODC headquarters are located in the state capital Bhubaneswar, instead of locating these headquarters in Koshal region.

Reasons for the demand of a separate Koshal State

Following are some of the reasons for the demand of a separate Koshal state.

Poverty

The incidence of chronic poverty in Koshal coupled with government failures in addressing its rising trends has been the most important factor for the demand for a separate state in Orissa. Majority of Koshli people lacked minimum purchasing power to meet even square meals per day. In the infamous backward districts of Koshal region (Boudh, Sonepur, Balangir, Nuapada, and Kalahandi) more than 60% persons live below the poverty line. Sonepur, Balangir, Nuapada, and Kalahandi are also part of Kalahandi Balangir Koraput (KBK) area famous for deaths due to hunger and poverty. Recurrent droughts, inadequate irrigation, skewed land distribution, and a rigged market all together have made Koshal a ‘hunger belt’ in Orissa over the half century since Independence. The results have been a human-disaster including large-scale starvation deaths, child selling, out-migration and malnourishments serialised by various Indian as well as international newspapers.

Industrialization and environmental degradation

Most of the farmers of Koshal region are marginal and uneducated farmers with small land holdings. So, it is easy for the industries to grab the land as small farmers are always eager to sell their land because of money without understanding the long term consequences. With the problems faced in land acquisition in Coastal Orissa many new industries are starting in Jharsuguda region.

 Koshal region is largely suffering due to mining and environmental degradation, but world class institutions are established in Coastal Orissa instead of Koshal region. Mining, tribal displacement and environmental degradation are caused by Vedanta group in Kalahandi but world class Vedanta University is being established in Puri instead of Kalahandi. Similarly POSCO is given mining in Sundergarh but one of the largest steel plant by POSCO is coming in Paradip instead of Sundergarh. Belpahar, Jharsuguda, Sambalpur and Brajarajnagar region is suffering due to coal mining, but state Govt. has ignored this region and pursued the coal ministry to establish Medical College in Talcher region. It is reported that farmers from more than eight district of Koshal region depend on the water of Hirakud resorvoir. There is a growing anger among the farmers of this are as the industries are using a huge amount of water from the Hirakud resorvoir. Frequently, farmers are also protesting saying "Hirakud dam is for irrigation, not industry".

 Less access to health services

There is only one Government medical college (VSS medical college) in Koshal region. The hospital is lifeline for the people of Athmallik, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Bargarh, Boudh, Balangir, Sonepur, Deogarh, Kalahandi, Nuapada, Sundargarh region. Even people from four neighbouring districts of Chhattisgarh are dependent.

 Early developments on Koshal state

It is said that the demand of a separate Koshal state is more than three decades old. The demand was raised by many politicians like RN Singh Deo, former CM of Odisha. Renowned Lawyer of Supreme Court Shree Prem Ram Dubey was first person to feel the Need of Koshal and submitted a memorandum to President of India. Local parties from Jharkhand claimed over inclusion of Sambalpur and Sundergarh District into Jharkhand. The Koshal Sammelani (Earlier group formed by Shree Prem Ram Dubey) urged the state and union government not to enter into any negotiation with any claimant for the transfer of any part of proposed Koshal state Mr Dubey asserted that while Punjab has only 46,000 km2, Koshal region having 75,000 sq. km and a population of one crore still was not provided statehood. He had also published the first newspaper for the Koshal state "Koshal Khabar". He also constituted the "Koshal Sena". He authored a book Hame Koshli Hamar Bhasa Koshli. and "Why Koshal State". His work for the upliftment of hundreds of bidi workers in the Koshal region is noteworthy. This was a part of work done by Shri PR Dubey's Koshal Party for civil welfare. All bidi workers were given separate identity cards at the cost of the Koshal Party and a meeting was held on each Saturday for solving and addressing their grievances. In 'Koshal Khabar' he propounded the Solutions to carve a separate state to end the discriminations by coastal people on the Koshalites. He was spearhead in most of the protest programmes. It was independently supported by former BJP MLA Balgopal Mishra though the State and Central units of the party never supported it publicly. As reported in "The Indian Express" the then Orissa PCC president Hemananda Biswal had strongly opposed the demand of a separate Koshal state. Addressing the media persons he told in Bhubaneswar that, "the Congress party is committed to the establishment of the Western Orissa Development Council (WODC) and the Bill in this connection is pending before the legislature". Balgopal Mishra reacted to it saying "there is a growing demand for a separate state in Koshal; it was regrettable that the newly elected MP and some legislators of Bolangir district had failed to see the writing on the wall". Mr. Mishra is famous for his `Koshal Mukti Rath' to generate public opinion in favour of his demand. He generated a lot of public support for a separate Koshal state despite a stiff opposition from the ruling party. Sapan Mishra of Sambalpur, along with some dedicated youth chalked out a rout-map for 'Koshal Mukti Rath'traversing the length & breadth of Koshal region, which ultimately made it a mass movement from a class movement. Later 'Koshal Rayej Kriyanusthan Committee' was formed which also fought Orissa State Assembly & Lok Sabha Election for the cause.

In an interview to The Hindu Mishra said: "The Koshal region will include at least 10 districts of western Orissa and adjoining areas that continue to be extremely backward and poverty-stricken. These are Bolangir, Nuapada, Sonepur, Sambalpur, Bargarh, Jharsugudha, Devgarh, Kalahandi Sundergarh, Bodh, Dhenkanal. "Though British imperialism has ended, we are still under coastal colonisation he said". Also, he arugued that Koshal region has been thoroughly discriminated as compared to the coast belt. All the development had taken place in the coastal region and it is politicians from that side who have dominated the political scene of the State. While here, were have been deprived and oppressed," he said in the interview.

 In 2004 the then Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani told reporters in Balangir that India could consider the demand for creation of a separate Koshal state only if the Orissa Assembly passed a resolution in this regard claiming "a consensus is needed in this matter".

 Developments between 2005 and 2009: demand by Koshal Kranti Dal and other organisations

Various political parties are demanding the formation of a new Koshal state comprising the most backward districts of Koshal. In particular, political parties and organisations like Koshal Kranti Dal, Koshli Ekta Manch, Koshal Party, Orissa Sanskrutika Samaj, Koshal Rajya Sangharsha Samiti, Hirakhanda Mukti Morcha, Koshal Mukti Morcha, Veer Surendra Sai Manch and All Koshal Students Union (AKSU) are spearheading the separate Koshal state demand.

For the first time a sitting MP from the Indian National Congress party (Sambalpur) and former minister Shri Amarnath Pradhan warned that "If the State Government continued to neglect Koshal then we will not hesitate to demand a separate state".

 In a recent development, Sambalpur University Student Union, Rajendra College Balangir Student Union and Balangir Women's College Union have supported demands for a separate Koshal state. In addition, the bar associations in Sambalpur and Balangir have demanded the formation of a separate Koshal state. Frequently, bandhs are observed in various places of Koshal region demanding a Koshal state. Activists have distributed maps of the proposed Koshal state and torn up the Orissa map as a symbolic declaration of separation from Orissa.

 On 23 December 2009 thousands of members of the Koshal Kranti Dal (KKD) staged a demonstration near the Orissa assembly building. The separatist supporters marched on the main street of the capital city Bhubaneswar. Later they gathered to hear dozens of leaders speak about the apathy of the state and central governments towards Koshal. According to The Statesman, the protest dharna was led by the KKD's president, Pramod K Mishra; other leaders of the party addressed the protestors exhorting them to launch a mass movement for separate statehood. The KKD's head Pramod Mishra said "We have separate Koshali language. Our culture and traditions are different. Our regions are the poorest in India despite having huge mineral and forest wealth. Only a separate Koshal state can improve the condition of our people".

 On 27 December 2009, The Pioneer published an article claiming that senior BJD leader and Minister AU Singh Deo was against demands for a Koshal state. Addressing the BJD foundation day in Bhubaneswar, Singh Deo said the demand for a Koshal State gained momentum as the past Congress Governments had neglected the interests of Koshal. "They had only allotted Rs 1 crore for the Koshal region’s development. But our BJD Government gave Rs 50 crore for the first time to the Western Orissa Development Council (WODC) and then enhanced it to Rs 100 crore," he said.

Protest against observation of Utkal divas, and continuous neglect and exploitation

Members of the Koshal Kranti Dal (KKD) and people of western Orissa led by the Balangir district president Bharat Prusti and general secretary of the All Koshal Students’ Union Mr. Dolamani Pradhan, protested against the "continuous neglect and exploitation" by the Orissa government and demanded formation of a separate Koshal State. The demonstrator tore the map of Orissa and burned a CD containing the song Bande Utkal Janani. the Koshal Kranti Dal (KKD) also organised a massive rally and meeting which was attended by delegates from eleven districts of western Orissa. The president of KKD Pramod Mishra informed that the people have gathered here to protest against their continuous exploitation by the successive Governments at Bhubaneswar. He further said that Koshli, not Oriya is our mother tongue as well as language of the Koshal region.

Activities in 2010

After this the members of All Koshal Students' union led by convener Dolamani Pradhan held a demonstration before the Collectorate in Balangir town protesting against the anti-Koshal remark by AU Singh Deo, Western Orissa Development Council (WODC)'s chairman Prof. Niranjan Panda and Chief Minister of Orissa Naveen Patnaik and later burnt their effigies.

 As reported by IANS, the rail services in Orissa were affected on 10 January 2010 (Sunday) as activists of Koshal Kranti Dal blocked the tracks to press the demand for a separate Koshal state. Hundreds of activists blocked rail tracks at many places of western Orissa, including at Balangir, Bargarh, Boinda, Rourkela and Kesinga, as part of their agitation. Similar agitations are also reported from Sambalpur and Jharsuguda where Koshal activists demanded a "separate state any cost". It was also reported that more than hundred of protestors courted arrest at Balangir town and the party leader of Koshal Kranti Dal Mr. Pramod Mishra said they will hold more such agitations in the coming days.Pramod Mishra also said that "We were forced to merge with Orissa in 1948. What this region has got after 60 years of merger? Only acute poverty and backwardness. On Tuesday, 19 January 2010 The Pioneer BBSR edition reported about the allegation of CPI(M) State secretary Janardan Pati that the indifference on the parts of the two main political parties in the State, the BJD and the Congress, over the issue is encouraging the demands of separate states. It was reported that members of the Koshal Kranti Dal and All Koshal Students’ Union, held Rasta Roko at different places on the Bargarh-Borigumma section of National Highway-201 and at Puintala on the Khurda-Balangir section of NH-224 for three hours from 10 am to 1 pm on Sunday (14 February 2010) for demanding a separate Koshal State. The Koshali Ekta Manch staged a road blockade on National highway-201 in Bhawanipatna; it also demanded a Central University in Kalahandi, and appointment of Shiksha Sahayaks as a district cadre and a by-pass road in the district.

Recent Activities

Led by the Koshal Kranti Dal and the Koshal State Coordination Committee (KSCC) it has been decided that 26th day of August on every year will be observed as Koshal Bandh Day. From 2012 until 2015, the same is being observed in the Koshal region for demanding of a new separate state. All the 10 districts take part in the Bandh to felicitate the activists for a successful execution of the movement.

2013

On 26 August 2013, a 12-hour Koshal Bandh was observed after a call given by the Koshal State Co-ordination Committee (KSCC) demanding separate Koshal state comprising 10 districts of the western region. Normal life was paralysed in Sambalpur as rail and road communications, shops and offices remained close on the day. At a meeting held in Balangir on 10 August 2013 it was decided that there would be a Bandh on 26 August 2013 in western Odisha.

 One day shutdown evoked large response in the districts of Sambalpur, Subarnapur, Nuapara, Bargarh, Boudh, Jharsuguda and Bolangir. Shops, business establishment, educational institutions such as colleges, schools, remained closed while peoples of all walks of life took out rallies and staged demonstrations at many places. They also held picketing before different central and state government offices, banks and other financial institutions.

Agitators, including locals obstructed trains, highways, as result passengers train remained stranded. Both government and private buses remain off the road. Fuel stations, cinema halls, malls and other commercial center remained closed in the district. Koshal Kranti Dal (KKD), Koshal Raijya Kriyanushtan Committee, Koshal Sena, Koshal Parishad had jointly given a call for bandh in the region over the demand of formation of a separate state 

2014

On 26 August 2014, the Koshal region led by Koshal Kranti Dal successfully conducted a strike for the demand of a separate state. The movement was supported by all the districts comprising the Koshal region. The Koshal coordination committee organized a motor cycle rally from Samaleswari temple of Bargarh town on 24 August 2014 to create awareness among locals regarding the demand of a separate state and also called for a western Odisha bandh to be observed on 26 August 2014

 2015

On 26 August 2015, like the previous bandh on the same day, a year back, Western Odisha observed a 12-hour bandh in response to a call given by the Koshal State Coordination Committee (KSCC), which was supported by more than 10 districts comprising the Koshal region. On Saturday activists took out a motorbike rally at Bargarh from Samalei Temple in the city through Bheden and Chiplima before culminating at the Maa Samalei Temple in Sambalpur to sensitize people for separate state.

 

The bandh had an effect in Bolangir, Jharsuguda, Sambalpur, Sundargarh, Rourkela, Bargarh, Deogarh, Subarnapur, Nuapada and Kalahandi. In Sundargarh, shops, government and private establishments, schools and colleges remained closed while movement of traffic including the loaded dumpers and trucks were disrupted in this mineral rich district.

 

The Balangir Wing of Koshal State Coordination Committee (KSCC) took out a motorcycle rally in the town on Monday to aware the people to participate in the bandh over separate Koshal State demand. Gopalji Panigrahi of Balangir Action Committee said the fight for Koshal State will continue till the demand is fulfilled by the Government.

 

 



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