New Delhi: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik attended the Third Meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog chaired by Prime Minister in New Delhi today.
Chief Minister, in his address, informed the Governing Council that Odisha Government has been actively implementing various programmes forming part of the agenda with remarkable positive outcomes. He stated that Odisha has made impressive strides in terms of economic growth and poverty reduction. The real growth of Odisha’s economy has accelerated from 4.61 per cent in 2012-13 to 7.94 per cent in 2016-17 and poverty in Odisha declined by 24.61 percentage points from 57.20 per cent in 2004-05 to 32.59 in 2011 as per Tendulkar Committee Methodology. He stated that high economic growth of Odisha has been accompanied by significant declines in poverty, infant mortality and under-5 mortality, achieved across all regions and social groups, reflecting inclusiveness of Odisha’s growth process.
Chief Minister shared that providing ‘Shelter Security’ to over 2.5 million rural households by 2019, ‘Power for All’ by March 2019 including 100 per cent village electrification by 2018, improved road connectivity, higher agricultural productivity and empowerment of farmers through increased irrigation, crop diversification, input subsidies, remunerative prices for agricultural produce and risk mitigation, increasing irrigation potential and skill development remain high priority of his Government.
Chief Minister mentioned that Odisha has been presenting a separate Agriculture Budget since 2013-14 and the Agriculture Cabinet in the State looks into all critical issues including self-sufficiency in food production, employment generation, infusion of technology and raising of incomes. He added that productivity gain achieved in agriculture has been recognised at the National level with conferment of Krishi Karman Award to Odisha four times during last five years.
Chief Minister informed that Odisha has already taken up computerization of Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies which will be completed within this year. Further, about 58 lakh farmers’ families have been provided with health insurance coverage, he stated. Odisha provides crop loans to farmers at 1 per cent interest alongwith direct transfer of input subsidies and procurement prices to their accounts through DBT mode.
Odisha has set a target to create 10 lakh hectare of additional irrigation during 2014 to 2019 to boost agriculture. Chief Minister stated that sharp focus on agriculture has paid dividends as Odisha is the only State in the country today which has been able to more than double the real income of farmers during the last decade, according to NSSO survey.
Chief Minister mentioned that the State has set up Odisha Skill Development Authority to guide, coordinate and implement all Skill Development programmes in the State to achieve an aspirational ‘Skilled-in-Odisha’ identity among the youth and potential employers and to develop Odisha as the Skill Capital of the country. He added that Odisha continues to focus on industry and is implementing the ‘Ease of doing Business’ framework.
A land bank has been created and Start Up Policy 2016 aims to facilitate one thousand Start Ups in next five years. He mentioned that the State is in the process of preparing Vision-2036 for overall development of the State, which will coincide with 100th year of formation of Odisha.
Chief Minister raised some important issues of concern which require serious consideration and intervention of the Union Government. He stated that Odisha has a high percentage of population below poverty line and belonging to ST and SC and deserves the same sharing pattern at par with North Eastern and Himalayan States. This demand, headded, is in line with the Punchhi Commission recommendations for higher Central transfers to backward States for improving their physical and social infrastructure.
Chief Minister also stated that the benefit of the effect of increased devolution of Central Taxes from 32 per cent to 42 per cent has been largely offset by several policy decisions of the Union Government including delinking of eight Centrally Sponsored Schemes from Central support, discontinuance of Special Plan for KBK and Central Assistance for IAP districts and a steep increase in State’s share of the Centrally Sponsored Schemes. He added that Odisha faces natural disasters every alternate year causing huge damage to the State’s resources. He highlighted that the geographical vulnerability of the State should be considered in the process of allocation of resources to Odisha so that disaster mitigation is adequately addressed.
Chief Minister underlined that the decision of the GST Council to use the proceeds of Clean Environment Cess for GST Compensation Fund, meant for all States, is disadvantageous to coal bearing States like Odisha which have to bear the burden of environmental degradation and the cost of rehabilitation. He urged upon the Governing Council to earmark 60 per cent of the Cess for coal bearing States.
Chief Minister mentioned that low telecom connectivity including lower bandwidth, low financial inclusion and a lower bank credit remain primary concerns of the State and urged upon the Governing Council to address these deficiencies adequately to realize the goal of Digital India. Highlighting the slow pace of implementation of BharatNet project, he impressed upon the need to expedite its implementation in all Gram Panchayats as it is necessary for effective roll out of various initiatives under Digital India programme. In addition, there is a need to set up a National Task Force to ensure mobile and broadband connectivity to deficit areas in Odisha and similarly placed States.
Chief Minister underlined that the State is committed to provide ‘Power to All’ by March, 2019 and urged upon the Governing Council to advise Ministry of Power to adopt SECC-2011 data as has been done for other Central schemes to enable the State to provide free electricity connection to eligible BPL households expeditiously. He further informed that many National Highways passing through Odisha are in a state of disrepair.
Even today, 122 km stretch of National Highways is of single lane and 86 km are of intermediate lane which should be upgraded to double lane at the earliest. He urged upon the Union Government to provide adequate funds in the Union Budget for ordinary repair andperiodical renewal of National Highways.
Chief Minister informed the Governing Council that Odisha Government has submitted a proposal to increase the Minimum Support Price for Paddy for the benefit of farmers in the State and urged upon the Union Government to consider and approve the proposal at the earliest. He pointed out that the cost estimates of eight major and medium irrigation projects identified in Odisha under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY) have been approved at 2012 prices with 20 per cent escalation, which will force the State to bear 75 per cent of their project cost instead of 40 per cent envisaged under the Scheme. He urged upon the Governing Council to finance the Central Share of these projects at 2016 prices and also include Lower Suktel and Brahmani Right Projects under PMKSY.
Concluding his address, Chief Minister expressed his hope that NITI Aayog will address the concerns of the States in general and of Odisha in particular in the true spirit of co-operative federalism and treat all States as equal partners in the furtherance of National Development Agenda.