BHUBANESWAR: Central apathy is back on the agenda of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) with the party announcing on Thursday that it will launch an agitation against the delay in giving approval for utilisation of funds meant for tribal development.
BJD MLAs will meet Governor SC Jamir on November 8 to lodge a protest against the delay which has slowed down implementation of tribal development work in the State.
Announcing this at a media conference here, BJD general secretary Padmanabha Behera and spokesperson Pratap Keshari Deb said the ruling party workers will stage dharna and demonstrations in front of all Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) offices in the State on November 10 in protest against the Centre.
As per constitutional provision, the Centre provides special assistance to the States every year to undertake tribal development work. The Tribal Affairs Ministry has provided `96.86 crore as per Article 275(1) of the Constitution and `98.09 crore special assistance to Odisha for 2016-17.
The funds can be utilised only after approval of annual action plan submitted by the State Government by the project appraisal committee (PAC). The BJD leaders said the PAC had met on August 4, 2016 and as per the decision at the meeting, a revised annual action plan was submitted by the State Government on August 16, 2016.
The PAC usually meets in March and April to approve the annual action plan. However, the committee met in August, 2016 and there is no response to the revised action plan submitted by the State Government till now, the two BJD leaders alleged.
The State Government has already submitted transfer and utilisation certificates for use of funds released by the Tribal Affairs Ministry in 2014-15 and 2015-16, the BJD leaders said and criticised the Centre for delaying the entire process in 2016-17.
They said though an MP from Odisha is the Union Tribal Affairs Minister, such a delay is unfortunate. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has raised the issue with Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram in a letter on November 2, 2016.
The delay of seven months in giving sanction to utilise funds has affected the livelihood of thousands of tribal people in the State, the BJD leaders said and alleged that the Ministry is also yet to release `36 crore for scholarship of tribal students in 2015-16.