BHUBANESWAR : The Centre has sanctioned Rs 333.8 crore in advance to Odisha to combat Covid-19 pandemic in rural areas as per the recommendations of the 15th Finance Commission. The amount released by the Union Finance Ministry’s Department of Expenditure is the first instalment of the Untied Grants for 2021-22. These funds will be utilised by the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) for prevention and mitigation measures against Covid-19.
The Ministry has decided to release the grants in advance as per the recommendation of the Union Panchayati Raj Ministry in view of the ongoing pandemic situation. The Finance Commission had recommended release of the first instalment in June, 2021. It has recommended devolution of Rs 4,575.45 crore for PRIs in Odisha.
The Finance Commission had put certain conditions including online availability of accounts of a certain percentage of PRIs in the public domain for release of funds. However, this condition has been waived due to the pandemic situation in the country. Meanwhile, the ruling BJD on Sunday said the release of Rs 333.8 crore by the Centre to Odisha in the first instalment for management of Covid-19 is a meagre amount. BJD national spokesperson Amar Patnaik said taking the district-wise share into consideration, it will come down to Rs 10 crore for each of the 30 districts in Odisha.
Stating that before the release of first instalment by the Centre, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had sanctioned more assistance to the districts, the Rajya Sabha member said the State government had sanctioned assistance of Rs 5 lakh to each of panchayats during the first wave of pandemic in 2020. “The Centre should have released the first instalment to Odisha much earlier. Considering the alarming pandemic situation in the State, it should release the second instalment very soon,” he added.
He also reiterated the demand that the Centre should bear the total cost of Covid-19 vaccination in Odisha. Stating that the pandemic has put enormous financial pressure on Odisha, he demanded that the Centre should bear the entire cost of vaccination.
“This will enable the State government to utilise the surplus money for development of health infrastructure,” he added. The MP said the Centre should also immediately accept the Chief Minister’s proposal to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to waive off the GST for the purchase of Covid vaccines.
Release of grants will strengthen Odisha’s Covid fight: Pradhan
Bhubaneswar: Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Sunday said the Centre’s release of grants of Rs 333.8 crore in advance to Odisha will be helpful for the three-tier Panchayati Raj Institutions for taking up various prevention and mitigation measures to combat the pandemic. It will augment resources of the panchayats and panchayat samitis for fighting the contagion. Asserting that the Modi government has always given priority to Odisha, Pradhan said the Centre had given Rs 2,258 crore to PRIs and Rs 1,087 crore to urban local bodies (ULBs) in 2020-21.