The New Indian Express, March 16, 2015
BHUBANESWAR: Even as the Government has projected a growth rate of 8 per cent during 2015-16, the growing disparities among different regions in the State have come in for sharp criticism from the Opposition political parties.
The delay on the part of the State Government to place the report of Justice SK Mohanty Commission, set up to look into regional imbalances, in the Assembly is alleged to be a cover-up of the lack of development in many areas of northern and southern Odisha, despite claims to the contrary.
Criticising the Government for not tabling the report for the last six years, BJP MLA Dilip Ray alleged that all the blocks in border areas of the State are backward. He demanded that recommendations of the Commission should be implemented on a priority basis within a time-frame.
The Commission had recommended that a Backward Area Development Council, covering all backward and very backward blocks of the State, should be set up by the Government. It has also said that a Bordering Area Development Board should be set up to intensify developments in the border blocks.
The Commission’s report is gathering dust since its submission to the Government in 2008. The Government is yet to table the report in the Assembly along with the action taken report.
The panel found seven districts to be ‘backward’ and eight to be ‘very backward’. In contrast, six districts were classified under ‘developed’ and nine under the ‘developing’ category. The panel also found serious disparities in the State in the field of industries. As many as 15 districts have been identified as industrially backward. Of these, seven were also extremely backward in terms of agriculture - which further compounded their misery. The districts were Malkangiri, Gajapati, Deogarh, Kandhamal, Nabarangpur, Mayurbhanj and Kalahandi, almost all dominated by tribal people.
The Government has set up Western Odisha Development Council to undertake developments in the Western Odisha region.