Oppn rejects Odisha govt’s claim on poverty reduction

Bhubaneswar: Opposition BJP and the Congress on Thursday rejected Odisha government’s claim of bringing around 80 lakh people out of poverty in the last decade, asserting that the ground situation says otherwise.

The issue was debated in the Assembly through an adjournment motion notice brought by BJP.

“There is no substantial change in the socio-economic condition of the people even as the state government claimed to have brought down poverty ratio. It is not visible on the ground,” BJP’s chief whip Mohan Chanraj Majhi said during debate on the governor’s address in the Assembly.

Alleging that about 90 per cent of tribals and dalits in the state are still deprived of basic amenities, Majhi said 40 per cent of the state’s population belongs to SCs and STs who struggle to make ends meet.

“The Odisha government’s claim of alleviating poverty is contradictory. During the budget presentation, finance minister Niranjan Pujari said that there are 70 lakh economically vulnerable families live in the state, while planning and convergence minister Padmanav Behera claims that poverty is reduced by 24.61 per cent,” he said.

On Monday, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said, in the Assembly, that the state government brought “more than 8 million people out of poverty in the last decade”.

Majhi, however, alleged that more than three crore people of the state’s population of 4.19 crore live below the poverty live.

BJP’s deputy leader in the Assembly B C Sethi said the state has been importing potato and flower from West Bengal, pulses from Uttar Pradesh, fish and vegetables from Andhra Pradesh and onion from Maharashtra for the last two decades.

“So, how has the government reduced poverty?,” he asked.

Congress Legislature Party leader Narasingha Mishra also criticised the state government, saying that the BJD government has “failed to bring an inclusive growth in the state”.

He suggested the Odisha government to implement the 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.

“In Odisha, we do not have teachers in schools, doctors in hospitals and there are no robust irrigation facilities in the state,” Mishra asked.

According to the Tendulkar Committee report, the poverty, which was 57.20 per cent in 2004-05, has been reduced to 32.59 per cent in 2011-12, Behera said.

The rate of poverty reduction was 24.61 per cent, which is the “highest among states in the country”, the minister said.

He said Odisha has emerged as a “food surplus state from a food deficient one”, he said.

The minister also rejected the opposition’s claim and said that the state government is committed to further reduction of poverty through its public welfare schemes and programmes.

(PTI)

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