Funds cut by Centre under ICDS, SSA, NHS leaves Odisha in lurch

Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, May 18:

With reports of Centre planning cuts in allocation to states under various schemes sponsored by it, the Odisha government is at its wit’s end on how to pay salaries to teachers appointed under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Anganwadi workers.

File Pic of an ASHA worker administering polio drops to a child
File Pic of an ASHA worker administering polio drops to a child

Doubts have also been expressed over payment of wages or dues to Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) workers appointed under the National Health Mission (NHS) following reports of Centre planning cuts in funds under the scheme.

The state government strongly protested against such move of the Centre at a meeting of a sub-committee of the NITI Aayog held in Kolkata on May 12 last.  The Aayog, however, told the state government in no uncertain terms to run these schemes with its own funds.

Sources said the Central government has decided to make cuts in the SSA scheme and the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS).

According to sources in the state government, the Central government has reduced its budgetary allocations for ICDS from Rs 16,316 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 8,245 crore this fiscal. Because of the cut, Odisha is likely to lose about Rs 800 crore under the scheme.

In the event of the Centre actually going ahead with the cuts, the state government has to arrange funds to keep these programmes going. Considering the financial condition of the state government, it’s all nigh impossible on its part to bear such a huge burden, the sources revealed. Even downsizing programmes already undertaken is a Herculean task, they added. The state government is trying hard to find a solution to pay dues to Anganwadi workers appointed under the scheme.

Similar is the situation in case of the SSA. The Central government has made it clear that it will no longer allocate funds for the scheme, which will now have to be run with funds available under the Elementary Education Fund. The state government too anticipates reduction in funding under this scheme.

“If the Central government cuts funding under the scheme, even paying salaries to about 45,000 Shiksha Karmis (Education Workers) won’t be possible,” said a senior official of the state government who is in the know of things.

While the Central government has increased its budgetary allocation for NHS from Rs 17, 434 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 18,000 crore this fiscal, it has made it clear that it will reduce its proportionate share under the programme. This means the state will get a reduced allocation in comparison to last year’s outlay under the scheme.

At the NITI Aayog meet held on May 12, the state government argued that the Centre-State share proportion in Centrally sponsored schemes should  fall below 90:10 or 75-25 percent under nay circumstances.

However, the Aayog has recommended to the Central government to provide the Rs 250 crore special grants available for KBK.

Similarly, the Aayog secretary is learnt to have informed officials of the state government that the Aayog has recommended provision of Rs 540 crore to the state government for the Integrated Action Plan (IAP), which is being implemented in 18 districts.

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