| 18 Jun 2024
Community Radio Stations in Odisha Strive for Rural Empowerment Amidst GST and Funding Challenges

MUMBAI: "Odisha's Community Radio Stations Unite to Empower Rural Communities and Advocate for Government Support*
Bhubaneswar: Community Radio Association of Odisha held a meeting at the PECUC office in Pokhariput, Bhubaneswar, with representatives from 22 community radio stations in the state in attendance. The meeting, chaired by S A Safique, the association's President, aimed to promote rural capacity building through community radio initiatives. During the gathering, NA Shah Ansari, a popular community media specialist and Chairperson of Radio Namaskar, emphasized the vital role community radio stations play in disseminating information about various government programs , rights & entitlements and schemes to the people.
One of the key challenges discussed during the meeting was the burden of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on community radio stations, which has led to the cessation of government advertisements for these stations. This financial setback has posed difficulties for the sustainability of community radio initiatives in the state. Moreover, the meeting highlighted a disparity in the Gopabandhu Journalist Health Insurance Scheme, which currently provides registration facilities for workers of private FM and All India Radio but excludes workers, reporters, and representatives of community radio stations. Subrat Kumar Pati, the head of Radio Outreach, expressed his concern over this exclusion and the meeting resolved to bring this issue to the attention of the state government.

In an effort to accelerate the association's programs, the meeting appointed well-known radio personality Subrat Kumar Pati as the Executive Secretary of the Community Radio Association of Odisha. The gathering also took the opportunity to felicitate Nihar Ranjan Panda, the Director of Radio Gunjan, Bargarh, for securing the first prize at the recent National Community Radio Conference organised by MIB, Govt of India.

Among the community radio stations represented at the meeting were Radio Gunjan of Bargarh, Radio Bulbul of Bhadrak, Radio Swaraj of Jajpur, Radio Jeevan of Balikuda, Radio Mahak of Baliguda, Radio Shishak of Mayurbhanj, Radio Swarasangam of Sinapali, Radio Dharamsa of Koraput, Radio Basudha of Dhenkanal, Radio Sandesh of Kantabanjhi, Radio Smile of Baliapal, Radio Sparsh of Baleswar, Radio Juhar of Keonjhar, Radio Abhinandan, Kanas, and Radio Swati from Kandhamal.

Biswajit Padhi, the Head of Radio Swayamshakti, delivered the welcome speech at the meeting, while Ranjan Mohanty, the Head of Radio Sampark, expressed the vote of thanks. The gathering concluded with a commitment among all community radio stations to collaborate and work together in their shared mission of serving the rural communities and bringing government programs and schemes to the people through community radio initiatives.