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Govt Silent on Congress Demand to Bring Backward Regions of Odisha Under Article 371

The issue of low allocation to WODC by Odisha government was discussed in the Assembly and the Congress urged the state government to take steps to ensure that the backward regions get special attention under Article 371.

PTI

Updated:November 16, 2019, 10:01 PM IST
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Govt Silent on Congress Demand to Bring Backward Regions of Odisha Under Article 371
File photo of Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik (PTI)

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government on Saturday agreed with the opposition Congress that the annual allocation for Western Odisha Development Council (WODC) was inadequate but was silent on its demand to bring the backward regions of the state under Article 371 of the Constitution.

The issue of low allocation to WODC by Odisha government was discussed in the Assembly and the Congress urged the Naveen Patnaik government to take steps to ensure that the backward western and southern regions of the state get special attention under Article 371 of the Constitution.

When the states annual budget is above Rs 1.40 lakh crore, the WODC is allotted only Rs 100 crore. The council covers 11 districts, which comprise one-third of Odishas geographical area and has one-fourth of the states population, Mishra said Congress Legislature Party leader Narasingha Mishra said initiating a debate on WODC in the assembly.

When backward regions of Maharastra, Gujurat and the north eastern states get special attention under Article 371 of the Constitution, Odisha government should also make efforts so that poverty stricken districts of the state too get similar facilities, he said.

The 11 districts under WODC and eight districts in KBK (Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput) region are known for their poverty, he said. If other states can develop by getting special attention under Article 371, why not the poor people of Odisha? he asked.

In his reply, the Minister for Planning and Convergence Padmanabha Behera remained silent over the Congresss demand but agreed to Mishras contention that Rs 100 crore annual allocation to WODC annually was inadequate.

I agree with the Congress leader that Rs 100 crore is a small amount for the development of 11 districts under WODC. My department will draw attention of the chief minister before the next budget, Behera said.

The minister claimed that though Rs 100 crore allocated to WODC annually was inadequate it had been helpful in the development of the region and in removing regional imbalances.

Besides, the major critical gaps are being filled with the funds allocated for WODC, he said adding the state government has allocated Rs 1562.64 crore for the development of western districts of Odisha since the inception of WODC in 1999.

The government has recently appointed a new chairman for the council and names of new members will be announced soon.

Congress legislators Taraprasad Banhinipati, Santosh Singh Saluja and others demanded that the allocation for WODC be increased to at least Rs 1,000 crore.

BJD members Rohit Pujari, Snehangini Chhuria and others claimed that WODC has been helpful in removing regional imbalances and sought more funds for the developmental activities in the region.

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