Ahead of His Rivals

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Chief minister Naveen Patnaik seems to be making all the right moves ahead of the elections. He has launched a string of welfare schemes that cater to the needs and demands of almost every section of the society. However, he seems particularly concerned about the welfare of the poor, the farmers, women and the youth. His popularity is on the rise

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik is always ahead of his rivals. With elections knocking on the door he has adopted a please-all approach and has been announcing schemes one after another for the welfare of almost every section of the society. His prime focus, however, has been the poor, women, farmers and the youth. While he has been creating livelihood opportunities for the poor, his government has done its best to ensure that women and the youth get enough opportunities to become self-dependent. He has been equally keen to help farmers optimise their yield.

His government recently announced its decision to spend Rs 6,029 crore till 2026-27 under Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA), its flagship cash aid scheme for farmers. The government has approved continued aid to farmers under the scheme and made the dates of extending the aid flexible.

In tune with the existing norms, the government releases cash to farmers for the rabi season. It can transfer the cash before these dates now. As many as 32.55 lakh small and marginal farmers, those with less than five acres of land, and 16.09 landless agricultural households will benefit from the decision.

After its launch in 2018-2019, the government had promised to pay a total of Rs 25,000 to small and marginal farmers over five crop seasons. After paying Rs 5,000 per year for two years, it has been paying Rs 4,000 per year in two instalments of Rs 2,000 each since 2020-2021, citing that farmers get Rs 6,000 a year under Centre’s PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme.

In another significant move ahead of the general elections, the chief minister announced formation of 34 new notified area councils (NACs) in 20 districts and upgradation of five existing NACs into municipalities in four districts.

With this, the number of urban local bodies (ULBs) in the state has gone up to 149 including five municipal corporations, 52 municipalities and 92 NACs. Earlier, the state had five municipal corporations, 47 municipalities and 63 NACs in its 30 districts. The chief minister hoped the newly created ULBs will ensure overall socio-economic development of areas under their jurisdiction. The five NACs that have been upgraded to municipalities are Boudhgarh in Boudh district, Karanjia in Mayurbhanj, Kantabanji in Balangir and Chhatrapur and Aska in Ganjam.

Of the 34 new NACs, the maximum four urban areas in Jajpur and Cuttack districts have been accorded the status of NAC, followed by three in Rayagada, two each in Angul, Balasore, Bargarh, Balangir, Ganjam and Khurda and one each in the rest 11 districts.

The new NACs are Binjharpur, Panikoili, Jaraka and Chandikhole in Jajpur district, Salepur, Badamba, Narasinghpur and Niali in Cuttack district and Chandili, Muniguda and Bisamkatak in Rayagada district. Pallahara and Chhendipada in Angul district, Basta and Simulia in Balasore, Paikamal and Bheden in Bargarh, Belapada and Saintala in Balangir, Shergarh and Kukudakhandi in Ganjam and Tangi and Begunia in Khurda have also been declared as NACs.

Similarly, Agarpada in Bhadrak, Jaipatna in Kalahandi, Raikia in Kandhamal, Borigumma in Koraput, Sinapali in Nuapada, Dunguripali in Subarnapur, Bonai in Sundargarh, Kantilo in Nayagarh, Betnoti in Mayurbhanj, Parjang in Dhenkanal and Kantamal in Boudh district have been accorded NAC status.

Apparently, the decision was taken following demands from locals during the district tour of 5T and Nabin Odisha chairman VK Pandian. “The ULBs have been formed keeping in view the demands of people, growth in urban population and the need for socioeconomic development of the areas in mind,” said the government. After the announcement, Ganjam district now has the highest 20 ULBs and Deogarh the lowest one. At least 20 per cent of the state’s population resides in urban areas, covering five per cent of the entire landmass of Odisha. The move is certain to create an atmosphere in favour of ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) ahead of the general elections.

The government has also been according top priority to the industrial development of the state with the state level single window clearance authority (SLSWCA) recently approving 27 industrial projects worth Rs 6,134.52 crore. The investments are expected to generate 42,275 jobs.

The projects will come up in 10 districts – Sambalpur, Kandhamal, Jagatsinghpur, Khurda, Jajpur, Rayagada, Puri, Sundargarh, Keonjhar and Angul. In the aluminium downstream sector, the proposal of SMEL Steel Structural Pvt Ltd to set up an aluminium coil, flat rolled products and battery foil manufacturing unit at an investment of Rs 893 crore at Rengali has been cleared.

Premier Explosive’s proposal to set up a defence explosives plant in Rayagada at an investment of Rs 864 crore, Odisha Hydro Power Corporation Ltd’s 63 MW hydro project at a cost of Rs 787.48 crore at Baliguda, Texmaco Rail and Engineering Ltd’s 35,000 MT manufacturing unit of wagons and couplers for railways at an investment of Rs 438.92 crore at Paradip have been approved. The three projects will generate employment for around 5,000 people.

In the machinery and equipment sector, Premium Transmission has evinced interest to venture into industrial transmission and renewable energy equipment manufacturing with its proposal to invest Rs 555 crore for a unit of mechanised goods at Khurda.

 

In the apparel and textiles sector, MAF Clothing, SAPL Industries Pvt Ltd, Meenu Creation LLP, Pooja International, Sonu Exim Pvt Ltd, Rainbow Fabart Pvt Ltd, BL International Pvt Ltd, Fine Lines (Noida Apparel Cluster), and Canberg Global Sourcing Pvt Ltd will collectively invest Rs 589.78 crore in readymade garments manufacturing units in Khurda and Puri. The units will create employment opportunities for over 26,823 individuals.

While Perfectus Technology Solutions Pvt Ltd and Umang Cold Storage Pvt Ltd have proposed to invest Rs 709.13 crore in IT infrastructure projects at Info City, Jupiter International Ltd will invest Rs 250 crore in a manufacturing facility of photovoltaic solar cells in Khurda.

Similarly, Magpet Polymer Pvt Ltd will invest Rs 175 crore for a PET preform, bottles and caps recycled flakes and pellets unit at Khurda, MSP Sponge Iron Ltd and Sree Metaliks Ltd will set up iron ore grinding units at a combined investment of Rs 297 crore at Keonjhar and Suraj Products Ltd will set up a 20,000 MT ferro alloys plant in Sundargarh for Rs 98.5 crore.

Thus, the government has been catering to the needs of every section of the society with special focus on the poor, women, farmers and the youth and at the same time taking steps to ensure Odisha’s industrial growth. No wonder the state during the last 20 years has transformed under the leadership of Naveen Patnaik who remains the favourite leader of the people.

Even the worst critics of Patnaik agree that he is certain to get a sixth straight term in office. They have seen in the past that Patnaik has the ability to turn the anti-incumbency factor on its head. In his case, it has always been pro-incumbency and he has successfully sought votes on the performance plank. With Odisha marching ahead on various fronts including industries, farming and sports there seems to be no stopping the BJD juggernaut.

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