BHUBANESWAR: Criticising the Odisha government's cheap meal scheme for poor in five major towns, senior Congress leader Niranjan Patnaik today said the people facing hunger and malnutrition do not live or visit big cities.
"The poorest and hungry people of Odisha neither live in the five major cities or they visit these places. The adivasis, the dalits, the peasants who have been suffering neglect, live in the villages and visit small towns to sell their produce in the weekly haat or at at times hospitals in small towns," Niranjan said in a statement. As per the Aahar programme, a poor man can have a full meal of rice and dal at the cost of Rs 5 while visiting five big towns in the state.
Stating that the BJD hardly wants to benefit all those poor and needy people, Niranjan alleged that the state government started the Aahar cheap meal programme in big places where there are television channels and reporters. "Naveen Babu wants publicity paid for by state-run or private companies, food security is hardly his concern," Niranjan alleged.
"The state run Odisha Mining Corporation, Tata Steel and other companies who mine in districts like Keonjhar and Sundargarh do not distribute even a glass of water in the villages close to their operation area. There is no cheap meal facilty at Keonjhar, Bonai or Sundergarh," Niranjan said. Why is that people living in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Berhampur, Sambalpur and Rourkela or visiting these cities have been found to be most deserving beneficiaries, Niranjan asked.
Stating that high incidence of hunger and malnutrition is mostly in rural areas, Niranjan said: "Naveen Babu is not interested in food security as much as in garnering votes through publicity stunts. He has a bleak view of aspirations of the people of Odisha and thinks that people are so poor that these publicity stunts will be good enough to meet the aspirations of the people even if no jobs are created or the plight of the farmers does not improve."