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Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik demands direct flight, trains to Surat

In a letter to Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu on November 15, Patnaik said a large number of Odia people, who were engaged in trade and commerce in Surat, face hardship as there was no direct air connectivity between Bhubaneswar and Surat at present.

December 16, 2018 / 04:00 PM IST

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has demanded the introduction of a direct flight and two new daily trains between Odisha and Surat for the welfare of over 7 lakh Odias who live in the textile city of Gujarat.

In a letter to Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu on November 15, Patnaik said a large number of Odia people, who were engaged in trade and commerce in Surat, face hardship as there was no direct air connectivity between Bhubaneswar and Surat at present.

The air connectivity between Bhubaneswar and Surat would not only cater to the requirement of the people from Odisha residing in Surat but also increase the tourist inflow to both the places, Naveen wrote.

The chief minister also wrote a separate letter to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal urging him to introduce two new daily trains between Berhampur city and Surat.

Noting that more than seven lakh people from South Odisha, especially from Ganjam district, are residing in Surat, Patnaik said that there is no direct train service between Berhampur and Surat.

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There are some trains originating and terminating at other destinations of Odisha and Gujarat. However, these train services are not only inconvenient but also inadequate to cater to the requirement of people from Odisha residing in Surat, the Chief Minister added.

Patnaik has also written another letter to Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani requesting him to provide one acre of land in Surat for establishing a community centre to meet the requirements of Odia people for their social celebrations.

"The proposed complex shall also serve as a nerve centre of cultural exchange between Odisha and Gujarat," he said.

The chief minister is slated to visit Surat on Monday to attend 'Odiya Mahotsav being organised there by an organisation run by Odia people in the textile city.

Patnaik's visit to Surat and the letters shot off by him are seen as a move to woo people of the Odia community, mostly from his home turf of Ganjam, for Assembly and Lok Sabha polls, slated early next year.

People from Odisha are engaged in powerlooms, dyeing, printing, diamond cutting and other spheres of trade, commerce and industry.

Opposition Congress and BJP lashed out at Patnaik for his "sudden" plan to visit Surat accusing him of showing concern for Odias living in the Gujarat city, in an attempt to grab their votes.

Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan accused Naveen Patnaik of "shedding crocodile tears" for the people from Odisha living in Surat and said the letters written by the chief minister to the Union ministers and his Gujarat counterpart are aimed at making electoral gain.

During the last 19 years of his rule, the chief minister never found time to visit Surat and learn about the problems of Odias living here, the BJP leader said adding Patnaik's sudden display of concern for the Odias in Surat is aimed at getting their votes.

By rejecting the Centre's Ayushman Bharat health insurance scheme, the chief minister has already deprived lakhs of Odias of the benefits of the programme, he said.

Congress stalwart and leader of opposition Narasingha Mishra claimed that the sudden show of love for Odias staying in Surat ahead of the elections is part of a well thought plan aimed at extracting electoral benefit.

Reguting the allegations, senior BJD leader and Rajya Sabha MP, P K Deb said the chief minister loves Odia people and has been working for their welfare and benefit.

He said opposition parties must refrain from giving political colour to the positive move.
PTI
first published: Dec 16, 2018 03:55 pm
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