By Samahit Bal
One would perhaps run out of adjectives if asked to describe the recent politically motivated hostility by a partisan section of people towards the Sports Department proposal about making use of the unutilised land of the Kalinga studio to pull it off a sports infrastructure that was lying defunct for close to two decades.
Such a sorry state of affair is the handiwork of a handful number of opportunist politicians along with few out of work Odia film actors who are eyeing on possible windows as their alternate careers.
This partisan section is making a sincere attempt at the insincere show of sympathy for the Studio that may not have been any of their priorities all these years. As if that was not enough, the Union Minister Mr Dharmendra Pradhan has joined the bandwagon assuring them the moon by promising central funding to revive the studio. Incredible is their selective amnesia, given that Kalinga studio has been out of favours by its users for two decades, as most producers are south-bound for their lenses.
The political circus has gained an underserving bandwidth post appearance of a routine letter on the dispatch website of the State Government. Innumerable such requests are made on a regular basis. The letter in question was written by the Secretary, Sports and Youth Affairs addressing the Principal Secretary of General Administration.
There is not an iota of mention regarding the property of the Studio, by any of the two Departments. However, there is a hint of contemplation about making use of the unutilised land of the studio to pull off a sports infrastructure Driven by the Honourable Chief Minister’s dream, over past few years Bhubaneswar has created a niche for itself and firmly put Odisha on the global sports map.
Now it is for the state to graduate from taking baby-steps to making giant strides. How unfortunate is it to see a small plan by the concerned department in this regard ending up in a needless political theatrics?
Taking wrong advantage of the circumstances, a leading TV channel of the state that has a long history of thriving on nitpicking criticisms about the State Government’s functioning has started fanning the drama.
The channel backed by an industrial group that offers patronage to sports only for its own business mileage joined hands with another print media to create a mountain out of this mole hill. Some others have started a vicious campaign in social media to make matters even more shameful.
Such people have shamelessly forgotten that the larger interest and the brand image of the State are getting damaged irreparably for their unintelligent and malicious acts.
Secondly, and more importantly, such an uncalled politics is denting the prioritized focus of the State Government.
The studio has long been defunct largely due to the fact that most of the Odia producers have long started exploring other locations outside state and the country to shoot their films.
Film-making is no charity. At a time when most part of human affairs are technology enabled and market driven, it is only apt to hope for private players to create a Disney land or Ramoji Film City that could attract eyeballs.
A studio of its kind may be a less priority area for the Government of a state like Odisha that has its fair share of problems to worry about. It would be unfortunate if the surplus land of the OFDC-run studio gets encroached by the land mafia who will not leave any stone unturned to steal a share of the pie.
Whether or not the state decides to give a nod to the Sports Department’s proposal, these ill-wishers who have nothing constructive on their agenda should do some homework to see the long-term benefits that beckon for a state which had just hosted the Hockey Champions Trophy, the 22nd Asian Athletics Championship, Hockey World League, recently concluded Super Cup Football and is slated to host the country’s biggest International Hockey event- the World Cup, come this November.
The sports pundits of the country have started calling Bhubanewar the sports capital of India, which is incredible by any stretch of imagination. It makes even more sense when the words come from none other than Mr Narinder Batra, the President of International Hockey Federation.
The progress in the field of Hockey has been unprecedented so far in the History of Odisha. Since 2013, it has been the only state that has managed to retain its own team in the Hockey India League.
The way the state lived up to the challenge to prepare within 90 days, literally from scratch to host an International Athletics meet in form of Asian Athletic Championship was incredible. Let alone the national media, even international media was lavish in their appreciation over the organization of the event.
The state has nothing to prove when it comes to stake its claim over organizing any international sporting event. Lord Sebastian Coe, the President of IAAF, is no pedestrian and does not admire for no reason.
The multiple Olympics medalist’s admiration of infrastructure and facilities at Kalinga Stadium for the Asian Athletics Championship as world class is true vindication of the state’s efforts and makes Odisha proud, immensely proud.
The state added its latest feather on its already glittering cap by being the sponsor of the National Hockey teams, the first for any state and the first for any mainstream sports of the country.
It has been lauded as exemplary and is being seen as a model for others. At such a time when the state is making steady strides to become a sports power house, some narrow minded people who have got nothing else other than political score to settle, are hell bent on mudslinging and maligning the progressive idea of doing what best can be done to develop a sports complex. Nothing can be more unfortunate than this.