BHUBANESWAR: Opposition BJP and Congress on Thursday rejected the State Government’s claim of bringing 80 lakh people out of poverty in the last decade, asserting that the ground situation shows a different picture.
The issue cropped up in the Assembly during discussion on admissibility of an adjournment motion brought by BJP.
“There is no substantial change in the socio-economic condition of people even as the State Government claimed to have brought down poverty. It is not visible on the ground,” BJP’s chief whip Mohan Charan Majhi said.
Alleging that about 90 per cent of tribals and dalits in the State are still deprived of basic amenities, Majhi said 40 pc of the State’s population, who belong to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, struggle to make ends meet.
“Odisha Government’s claim of alleviating poverty is contradictory. During the budget presentation, Finance Minister Niranjan Pujari said 70 lakh economically vulnerable families live in the State, while Planning and Convergence Minister Padmanav Behera claims that poverty has reduced by 24.61 per cent, he said.”
Majhi also referred to the statement of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in the Assembly in which he said the Government brought “more than 8 million people out of poverty in the last decade”.
Majhi alleged that more than three crore people of the State’s population of 4.19 crore live below the poverty line.
BJP’s deputy leader in the Assembly Bisnu Charan Sethi said Odisha has been importing potato and flowers from West Bengal, pulses from Uttar Pradesh, fish and vegetables from Andhra Pradesh and onion from Maharastra for the last two decades. “So, how has the government reduced poverty?” he asked.
Leader of Congress Legislature Party (CLP) Narasingh Mishra also criticised the State Government, saying that the BJD government has “failed to bring inclusive growth in the State”.
Alleging that the State Government has taken the issue very lightly, Mishra suggested that theories of Nobel laureates Amartya Sen and Abhijit Banerjee who have pointed out that education, health and agriculture should be given priority to eradicate poverty should be implemented.
“In Odisha, we do not have teachers in schools, doctors in hospitals and there are no robust irrigation facilities in the state,” he asked.
Suresh Routray (Cong) and Nityanand Gond (BJP) also criticised the Government for its failure to reduce poverty over the years.
In his response, Minister for Planning and Convergence Padmanabha Behera said according to Tendulkar Committee report, poverty, which was 57.2 per cent in 2004-05, has been reduced to 32.59 pc in 2011-12. The rate of poverty reduction was 24.61 per cent, which is the “highest among states in the country”, he said.
Stating that Odisha has become a “food surplus state from a food deficient one”, the Minister rejected the Opposition’s claim and said the State Government is committed to further reduction of poverty through its public welfare schemes and programmes.