Bhubaneswar, March 3: Ahead of elections to the Sambalpur municipal corporation in Odisha, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday urged the Centre to set up the proposed Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Sambalpur under relaxed guidelines.
In a letter to Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Smriti Zubin Irani, Patnaik said: "If central government is willing to relax this guideline for site selection, then the state government strongly recommends Sambalpur in western Odisha as the location of IIM, Odisha."
Earlier, the state government following the HRD ministry's guidelines, had recommended setting up the proposed IIM in Bhubaneswar.
"I would like to inform you that while recommending the sites for IIM, the state government was constrained by the fact that the location should be close to an airport as per guidelines circulated by the HRD ministry," said the chief minister.
He said the guidelines restricted the government's choice to places in and around Bhubaneswar.
In a separate letter to Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Patnaik urged the setting up of two new Passport Seva Kendras (PSK) at Sambalpur and Berhampur.
Stating that the only PSK in Odisha, located at Bhubaneswar, serves 30 geographically dispersed districts, he said the citizens of western and southern districts experience immense difficulties in obtaining passports.
In 2014, about one lakh passports were issued by the PSK. However, the Opposition Congress and BJP smelt politics in the government move.
"The central government had asked them to identify three places to set up an IIM in Odisha. But it identified two places in Bhubaneswar, ignoring the demand of Sambalpur. As Sambalpur will go to polls soon, there is a political intention behind the letter of the CM," said BJP spokesperson Suresh Pujari.
Congress leader Pradip Majhi said Naveen Patnaik has embarked on election campaigning for Sambalpur. Recently, Naveen Patnaik announced Rs.1,600 crore for various development projects in Sambalpur and also laid the foundation stones of various projects.