Dr Bansidhar Panda, the doyen of Odisha industries and father of MP Baijayant Panda, passed away at his residence in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday. He was 87.
Panda, Founder & Chairman Emeritus of IMFA Group, was left his lucrative career in metallurgical research abroad in the 1960s to be an entrepreneur, responding to the call of the then chief minister Biju Patnaik.
Panda had founded IMFA (Indian Metals and Ferro Alloys) in 1961 and set up his first plant at Therubali, a backward region in undivided Koraput district. IMFA since has grown to be a leading forro alloys manufacturer in the country with multi-location facilities.
After passing out from Benaras Hindu University, Panda had left for the US in the fifties for higher studies at Michigan Technological University and Harvard University. Imbibed with the idea of transforming the lives of people and nation through application of science and technology during his stint in the US, he had set out on a mission to replicate the same in Odisha on his return.
As a businessman, Panda had shown his grit and acumen when he fought with Tatas in early 1990s in Indian courts to wrest chromite mining rights till then concentrated with the steel behemoth.
In mid-80s he had bought properties of Kalinga Tubes, an ailing unit established by Biju Patnaik, at Choudwar where he set up his second ferroalloys and power complex.
The deal had cemented his camaraderie with the legendary politician which later helped to launch political career of his wife Ila Panda and later son Baijayant Panda as Rajya Sabha members.
Panda had served on Boards of Air India and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. Besides, he has been the former Chairman of the Board of Governors of NIT, Rourkela; and member on the governing Boards of IIT, Kharagpur and IIM, Kolkata.
Beyond business, he was also known for his philanthropic activities which saw the group instituting prestigious Sarala Award for literature and Ekalabya Puruskar for sports, which honoured people for their achievements in the respective fields.
Apart from Baijayant, Panda is survived by his second son Subhrakant and two daughters Paramita and Nita Ganapati.
Meanwhile, many eminent persons, including chief minister Naveen Patnaik, mourned the death of Panda.