Odisha CM Majhi bats for two development councils, task force to be formed

Development councils for south and north Odisha was a major poll promise of the BJP
Odisha CM Mohan Charan Majhi
Odisha CM Mohan Charan MajhiExpress Illustration

BHUBANESWAR: Chief Minister Mohan Charan Majhi on Tuesday asked the officials of Planning and Convergence (P&C) department to set up a task force for the creation of two more development councils for the southern and northern regions of the state.

Creation of North and South Odisha Development Councils to address the regional imbalances and ensure equitable development across regions was a major poll promise of the BJP.

“We will form the Northern Odisha Development Council within 100 days of forming the government to cater to the need of the northern region. We will establish the Southern Odisha Development Council to resolve the Kotia border dispute (with Andhra Pradesh),” the BJP has stated in its manifesto.

Chairing a review meeting with development commissioner Anu Garg and other senior officers, Majhi directed the department to draft a comprehensive proposal for the councils at the earliest.

Demand for separate development councils for northern and southern region was getting louder in the last few years as budgetary support to Western Odisha Development Council (WODC) was substantially increased year after year.

The state government constituted WODC in 1998, with jurisdiction over 10 districts of Bargarh, Balangir, Boudh, Deogarh , Jharsuguda, Kalahandi, Nuapada, Sambalpur, Sonepur and Sundergarh and Athamalik sub-division of Angul district. It was created with a mandate to accelerate the pace of development of the areas and mitigate regional disparities.

The council which received a token budget of Rs 1 crore in the first three years got a financial assistance of Rs 30 crore in 2000 when the BJD-led government came to power. The WODC budget was increased to Rs 325 crore in 2023-24.

The chief minister also directed the department to set up trauma care centres in medical colleges and hospitals established in districts affected by mining activities. The fund for the purpose should be sourced from the district mineral foundation (DMF).

As the government is planning to place a full budget in July, Majhi asked the department to prepare a people-centric budget aligned with the promises made in the manifesto. “Since the people have great expectations from this government, the budget should reflect the aspirations of the people,” he said.

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