Leading Odia industrialist Dr Bansidhar Panda passed away at his Bhubaneswar residence on Tuesday (May 22). He was 87.
He was the founder and chairman emeritus of Indian Metal and Ferro Alloys (IMFA), one of India’s biggest ferro-alloy companies.
Condolences poured in from across the state for Dr. Panda.
His son Kendrapara MP Baijayant Panda tweeted on May 22: “My father Dr Bansidhar Panda passed away today at 87 after visiting his birthplace & praying to our Ishta Devata Nrusinghanath. We just cremated him amid several thousnd well wishers. During the day many came & paid last respects incl sr leaders of Congress, BJP & CPI.”
“Condolences. Prayers that you and your family have the strength to bear with this loss,” tweeted Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan shared his grief on Twitter: “Grieved to hear of the sudden demise of Dr. Bansidhar Panda, founder of @IMFALtd and one the the pioneering industrialists of India. Extending my deepest condolence to you, Baijayant ji and the family.”
“Saddened to know about the demise of Bansidhar Panda, an architect of modern industrial revolution in Odisha. May God give strength to his family to bear this loss @PandaJay,” tweeted senior Congress leader Rajeev Shukla.
Meanwhile, Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik faced criticism for paying tribute through a press release instead of visiting him physically.
Despite Dr. Panda being close to former Odisha chief minister Biju Patnaik, neither Naveen Patnaik nor any of his Biju Janata Dal (BJD) visited him before or during his last rites.
BJD Rajya Sabha member Soumya Ranjan Patnaik’s daughter Tanaya Patnaik tweeted: “I think it’s a matter of utter shame that the CM did not pay his last respects to the late Banshidhar Panda – a trailblazer for industrialism in Odisha. Doing so would have only made him the bigger and better person.”
Here are 10 things to know about Dr Bansidhar Panda:
1. The doyen of Odisha industries was close to former chief minister Biju Patnaik. It was he who influenced Dr. Bansidhar Panda to leave his career in metallurgical research in the US and start his own business in the 1960s.
2. He started the IMFA in 1961 with the first plant been set up at the backward region of Therubali in undivided Koraput district.
3. A pass-out of Benaras Hindu University, Dr. Panda pursued higher education at Michigan Technological University and Harvard University in the US.
4. Be it in the US or in Odisha, his idea throughout was to transform lives of people through science and technology.
5. In the early 1990s, Dr Bansidhar Panda was successful in bagging chromite mining rights after a tough legal competition with Tata Steel, who, till then, had acquired the sole mining rights.
6. In mid-1980s, he set up his second IMFA plant at Choudwar after buying properties of Biju Patnaik’s ailing Kalinga Tubes.
7. This deal strengthened the relationship with Dr Bansidhar Panda and Biju Patnaik with the latter introducing the businessman’s wife Ila Panda and later son Baijayant Panda to the world of politics and Rajya Sabha.
8. Dr. Panda had been a board member of Air India and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. He was also former chairman of the Board of Governors of NIT, Rourkela and governing board members of IIT-Kharagpur and IIM-Kolkata.
9. He was known for his philanthropic activities. He even instituted the prestigious Sarala Award for literature and Ekalabya Puruskar for sports.
10. Dr. Panda is survived by his four children – Kendrapara MP Baijayant Panda, Subhrakant Panda, Paramita and Nita Ganapati.a