Regional disparity issue pushed to oblivion in Odisha
That the State government is completely oblivious to the issue is evident from the fact that the report of a commission set up in 2004 for the purpose is yet to see the light of the day.
Published: 09th September 2022 09:49 AM | Last Updated: 09th September 2022 09:49 AM | A+A A-
BHUBANESWAR: As the bandh demanding a separate Koshal State evoked mixed response from people of a few western Odisha districts on Wednesday, the issue has propelled regional disparity to a point of debate with Opposition leaders blaming the government for brushing it under the carpet.
That the State government is completely oblivious to the issue is evident from the fact that the report of a commission set up in 2004 for the purpose is yet to see the light of the day. The government 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 to address the issue.
The panel submitted its report in 2008 after which the government formed a sub-committee to study its recommendations. The sub-committee is yet to submit its report. Sources said the commission had identified 156 backward and very backward blocks.
This apart, 64 blocks in the areas bordering neighbouring states were also identified by the panel as ‘very backward’. It had recommended restructuring of the State Planning Board and the formation of a backward area development council and bordering area developing board.
Prior to this, the State government had set up a committee in 1991 led by Prafulla Chandra Ghadai, who was then a minister in the Biju Patnaik cabinet, to study the issue and submit a report. The Ghadei committee had identified 34 very backwards, 25 backward, 25 developing and five developed blocks in the western Odisha districts.
However, the government never acted on the two reports through a Western Odisha Development Council (WODC) set up in November 1998. Even as the budget of the State has reached Rs 2 lakh crore, the government’s allocation for the Council was Rs 250 crore in 2022-23.
There was no meeting on the issue of regional imbalance during the tenure of former Planning and Convergence Minister Padmanabha Behera. He, however, said there has been all-around development of the State during the last 20 years. Planning and Convergence Minister Rajendra Dholakia did not comment saying he is busy with a function in his constituency.