Archive for July, 2015
The Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 has in one stroke not only demolished Odisha’s growth story spun by the Naveen Patnaik government over the past one-and-a-half decade but also laid bare an embarrassing failure of its much-vaunted welfare and poverty alleviation schemes. It cannot be a more damning indictment of the inefficiency than the fact that more than 66 per cent of the population in rural Odisha still continues to languish in acute deprivation without access to basic needs such as food, housing or income generation means. The findings of the census has countered and exposed the hollowness of the government’s claims at every point.
While the State Finance Minister painted a glowing picture of the socio-economic rise over the last decade, projecting a growth of eight per cent in 2015-16, the census report has presented a worrying scene. Over 46.6 lakh (54 per cent) of the total 86.22 lakh rural households are landless and 23 lakh households have only one room with kutcha roof to shelter whole families. A whopping 87 per cent households manage with a measly income of less than Rs 5,000 a month. In the face of the Government’s claims that poverty has been reduced by almost 25 per cent and socio-economic conditions for a vast chunk of the population have been improved, Odisha has been ranked among the top four states in the country in terms of beggary with over 54,000 households depending on it while as many as 22,353 households resort to rag-picking and rummaging garbage dumps for their livelihood. Further, almost 59 per cent of the total households are engaged in manual and casual labour.
The census practically serves as a report card on the schemes and measures implemented by the government, revealing their failings and fissures. Despite the flagship Rs 1-a-kilo rice scheme, claimed to cover over 58 lakh households, and programmes for housing, irrigation, farm assistance, skill development and employment generation, the poverty and deprivation situation has not improved as much. The government should re-examine the schemes to reach the beneficiaries at every level and draw up strategies for more focused implementation of poverty alleviation and development programmes.
The committee however, decided to recommend the Centre for inclusion of all five corporations under the Smart City scheme launched by the NDA government recently.
BHUBANESWAR: A panel headed by chief secretary G C Pati on Thursday ranked Bhubaneswar and Rourkela in the top two positions among the five municipal corporations for the Smart City scheme.
The committee however, decided to recommend the Centre for inclusion of all five corporations under the Smart City scheme launched by the NDA government recently. Earlier, the Centre announced to include two cities from the state under the scheme.
“On the basis of the guidelines of the scheme, the panel ranked Bhubaneswar at the top with 70 points followed by Rourkela with 61.5 points. The three other cities, including Cuttack, Berhampur and Sambalpur, scored 60 points each,” said special secretary of housing and urban development department S K Ratho after a meeting of the committee here.
The cities were ranked on the basis of existing service levels (25 points), institutional systems and capacities (15 points), self-financing (30 points) and past track record (30 points), sources said.
The selected cities from the state have to participate in a city challenge competition with 98 other cities to figure in the final list, official sources said.
On August 3, the Centre would announce list of 20 cities in the first phase under the scheme. “Bhubaneswar being a planned city stands a good chance to win the smart tag in the first phase,” Ratho said.
Under the scheme, each city would get Rs 100 crore annually for five years. The state government will also contribute an equal amount for development of the city.
A potential Smart City should have assured water and electricity supply, sanitation and solid waste management, efficient urban mobility and public transport, affordable housing, robust IT connectivity, e-governance, safety and security of citizens and health, education and economic activities.
Following declaration of the list of cities, the state government would provide consultative support to the cities to prepare Smart City proposals.
The opposition parties, however, said the announcement to cover Rourkela under the scheme is to woo the voters of the city ahead of corporation polls.
Shortly after the committee ranked the Steel City in the second position, the BJD workers started celebration by distributing sweets in the city to gain political mileage ahead of the corporation polls.
BHUBANESWAR: Ahead of the elections for two newly created municipal corporations—Sambalpur and Rourkela, chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday urged the Centre to expedite inclusion of Sambalpuri/Kosali and Ho languages in the Eighth schedule of the Constitution.
In a letter to Union home minister Rajnath Singh, the Odisha chief minister said on the basis of the recommendations of an expert panel, the state government had already submitted a proposal in this regard.
“It may be reiterated that Sambalpuri/Kosali is the mother tongue of more than 7.5 million people in Western Odisha and spoken for many centuries. It is used as a medium of teaching in non-formal schools now,” he noted.
Naveen also said Ho language is the mother tongue of more than one million tribal people living in bordering districts of Odisha and Jharkhand.
It also tried to woo the people of western parts of the state, the party had announced in its election manifesto during 2014 elections, to pressurize the Union government for inclusion of Koshali in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.
It was a long standing demand from different quarters to accord constitutional status to the Sambalpuri/Kosali and Ho languages.
BHUBANESWAR: The much-awaited Khurda Road-Balangir railway project is expected to get a fresh lease of life as the state government will be signing an MoU with the railway ministry on July 20 for the completion of the project in a time bound manner, official sources said.
The 289-km rail project, to course through some of the backward districts of the state, was sanctioned by the Centre in 1994-95.
The inordinate delay is mainly ascribed to problems over land acquisition. So far, work has been completed only on 32 km (Khurda Road to Begunia) which is scheduled to be inaugurated by Union railway minister Suresh Prabhu in the presence of chief minister Naveen Patnaik.
The Union minister will also inaugurate station buildings of Begunia and Khurda Town by remote control and flag off the passenger train, railway sources said.
For speedy completion of the project, the state government has offered to provide free land on the Daspalla-Bolangir stretch (112-289 km) for this crucial rail link and agreed to bear 50% of the project cost.
This rail project was sanctioned in 1994-95 at an estimated cost of Rs 1,000 crore. Due to delay, the cost of the project has now gone up to Rs 2,000 crore.
“The cost overrun has been due to a steep rise in input costs like steel and cement.
The Railway Budget for 2015-16 had allocated Rs 195 crore for this project,” said an officer.
The state government has already handed over private land of 1,095.91 acre to the railway authorities. The whole project needs 5,021 acre of land, sources said. “We hope the MoU will help speed up the project,” said transport and commerce minister Ramesh Majhi.
According to sources, the state government is going to propose to the railway ministry to be partners in a number of other railway projects which has been hanging fire for the past several decades.
Other pending railway projects include the Haridaspur-Paradeep special purpose vehicle (SPV) project (82 km, sanctioned in 1995-96), Anugul-Duburi-Sukinda SPV Project (90 km, sanctioned in 1997-98), Talcher-Bimlagarh (154 km, sanctioned in 2004-05) and Jaleswar-Digha (40 km, sanctioned in 2010-11).
To ensure rail connectivity in tribe-dominated districts, the state government has announced it would bear 50% of the construction cost along with free land for the Jeypore-Nabarangpur line and 25% of the construction cost for the Jeypore-Malkangiri line for creating railway infrastructure.