Poverty stares in face in Odisha’s industrial, minerals-rich districts

December 29, 2009 at 6:38 pm Leave a comment

Following is a report  from The Pioneer:

Even though the utopian promise of universal prosperity is made by the economists and the Naveen Patnaik regime too has jumped into such a bandwagon on the assumption that the key to prosperity and poverty alleviation is industrial boom in a mineral-rich State like Odisha, revelations startle by stating that the districts, bestowed with the nature’s treasure trove and dotted with industries of varied sizes and shapes, are still left in the lurch while 50 per cent of their populace languish in abject poverty.

A case in point is the tribal-dominated districts of Sundargarh, Keonjhar, Koraput and Jajpur.

India’s first President Rajendra Prasad had ignited the historic blast furnace Parbati of Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) on February 3, 1959 igniting hopes and aspirations in the minds of the locals. Meanwhile, over 45 sponge iron plants have sprung up in Sundargarh besides scores of crusher units and 130-odd mines.

Yet, only five unemployed local youths out of the registered 70,000 have been absorbed by the private sectors during the last five years, sources claimed. Moreover, the Food Security related update of the Union Rural Development Ministry reports that out of the 3,29,000 households in the district, only 1,82,085 families are blessed with food security. 18,980 families are not even lucky enough to stuff their bellies with one square meal a day while 44,162 families go half-starved with two squares meal a day. Thus, over 60,000 households out of the total 3,29,000 are being deprived of food security.

Similarly, Keonjhar district owns 116-odd mines and over 50 industrial units. It earns a distinction of contributing 21 per cent of the total iron ore mining in India. Ironically, 60 per cent of its population, chiefly tribals, are below poverty line and ranks 24th out of the 30 districts in the State. Koraput ranks 28th with 79 per cent BPL population despite its 40 per cent contribution of bauxite mining in the national average. The case of Jajpur is awe-striking as it amazingly ranks 22nd in terms of poverty alleviation despite its impressive 95 per cent contribution of chromites mining at the national level.

New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE)’s findings reveal that 7,16,183 Indian youths could avail of job opportunities at the mines sprawling nationwide while over three crore could get absorbed in the large and medium industries. However, by 2005, the figure has respectively declined to 5,56,647 and 1.90 crore paradoxically putting the utopian promise of universal prosperity on a reverse gear.

It is high time for a second thought ought to be given on Bhutan’s youngest ever King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck’s 21st Century economics of Gross National Happiness (GNH) in preference to the traditional belief of Gross National Product (GNP). It was on December 23 (Wednesday), the King of Bhutan, a deemed icon of the Gen X, during his maiden visit to Bhutan’s ‘steadfast partner’ India had made his keynote address at the Madhav Rao Scindhia Memorial Lecture at Teen Murti House in New Delhi and had enthralled Home Minister P Chidambaram, Congress strategist Janardan Dwivedi and CPI(M) Politburo member Sitaram Yechury, prominent among other dignitaries and economists.

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Entry filed under: Industries and Environmental Issues, Industries and mineral resources, Poverty and Hunger in Koshal region, Region watch, Sundergarh.

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