BHUBANESWAR: Even though 220 blocks out of 314 remain backward in Odisha, the State Government is yet to put in place a comprehensive action plan to improve the situation. As many as 70 per cent are in the Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) area.
Though several incidents in the recent past have brought to the fore the non-existent health and other infrastructure in backward tribal districts of Odisha, the situation has not improved even after utilisation of crores of rupees under different schemes.
In this background, the manner in which the State Government put the report of Justice SK Mohanty on regional imbalance in cold storage has drawn strong criticism. Though the issue is raised in every Assembly session by the Opposition political parties, no step has yet been taken by the State Government to make the report public.
The State Government had constituted the Commission, headed by Justice SK Mohanty on February 20, 2004 to study regional imbalances in the development of the State and recommend remedial measures required to be taken to address the issue.
The Commission submitted its report in August 2008. However, it is yet to be implemented for the reason that it is under scrutiny by a sub-committee set up by the State Government, comprising secretaries of 11 departments, to scrutinise the report. Surprisingly, the sub-committee has met only five times in the last 10 years.
The Commission is reported to have recommended identification of most backward tribal dominated areas bordering other States and then prioritise the development needs of these regions. It had recommended that Bordering Area Development Board should be constituted for the development of these backward areas.
According to sources, the Commission had identified 156 backward and very backward blocks. Besides, 64 blocks on the border areas of neighbouring States were also identified by the Commission to be very backward.
The Commission had recommended restructuring of the State Planning Board and formation of backward area development council and bordering area developing board.