BHUBANESWAR: Even though Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik welcomed the announcement in the Union Budget 2018-19 to increase minimum support price (MSP) to 1.5 times of the cost of production of crops, he expressed disappointment over lack of focus for KBK, other tribal areas and inadequate allocation for some key sectors. Naveen also welcomed the national health protection schemes announced to cover 10 crore poor families.
He, however, said instead of setting a target of 10 crore, universal coverage extending to all eligible poor families would have been better. “If such a step is taken, the State Government will fully support it,” he said. The Chief Minister said a longstanding demand of the State to increase MSP on crops by 1.5 times of the cost of production seems to have been accepted. Naveen, however, said the cost of production must take into account the actual cost incurred by farmers on a realistic basis. “I welcome the intent of the Central Government,” he said and added, “at the same time, I am keenly waiting to see the modalities of calculation.” Naveen said allocation for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other vulnerable sections and social sector has been grossly inadequate.
“I am disappointed that again the Centre has missed out focus for KBK and other tribal areas,” he said.
Inadequate allocation for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), mid-day meal scheme, National Health Mission and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) has come in for criticism from the Chief Minister.
“I am also concerned about the low level of allocations for MGNREGA, Mid-day Meal Scheme, National Health Mission and PMGSY,” he said. Naveen also expressed unhappiness over reduction in allocation under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY). “I am surprised by the reduction in allocation under PMAY, while we have a commitment towards housing for all,” he said and added there is also inadequate emphasis on providing drinking water. Marginal increase in allocation for irrigation, which will play a major role in doubling farmers’ incomes, is a serious concern, he said.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik expressed disappointment over non-implementation of announcement for re-development of railway stations in the State. Announcements have been made on re-development of 600 railway stations in 2018-19 railway budget, the Chief Minister said and added, “Two years ago the announcement was made for 400 stations, but nothing has happened in this sector, specifically for Odisha in which 12 stations had been chosen by the Railways,” he said.
Naveen said the State Government has offered to make a world class and brand new railway station at Bhubaneswar, fully funded by the State on state government land, but the Railways has not even come forward to sign the memorandum of understanding (MoU). “I hope more stations of Odisha are covered and work on the ground can be started this year,” he said. Stating that Odisha contributes hugely to the earnings of the Indian Railways, Naveen hoped that the State’s demands like daily Rajdhani services via Sambalpur, train to Allahabad from Balangir and a daily express train to Mumbai in Paika leader Baxi Jagabandhu’s name are announced immediately.
He expressed disappointment over the fact that the wagon manufacturing factory at Sitalapalli, announced in 2011-12, for which the State Government has given 100 acres of land was pushed to cold storage stating non-requirement of wagons. But even before the budget, the Railways announced a new coach manufacturing factory in Marathwada area of Maharashtra. The Chief Minister said the allocation for Odisha for 2018-19 should be made as per the demand of `6,500 crore. He expressed concern over low expenditure which is expected to remain below 60 per cent of the outlay in 2017-18.