BHAWANIPATNA: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik went on an inauguration spree in Kalahandi district on Saturday.
During his short visit to the district, he inaugurated a mega lift irrigation project over river Ret, a bridge over river Udanti and five model schools.
The lift irrigation project at Loitara under Kesinga block has been constructed at a cost of `212 crore and it will irrigate 5,000 hectares of land. The bridge over Udanti near Kanduljhar has been set up at the cost of `13 crore. The model schools have come up in Musiguda under Bhawanipana block, Junagarh, Kalampur, Chapatkhanda under Narla block and Vejipadar under Kesinga block. The Government had sanctioned `2.94 crore for each school.
Naveen also laid the foundation stone for construction of a high-level bridge over river Ret near Kankutru under Lanjigarh block for which, the Government has earmarked `4.97 crore.
Addressing a public gathering at Jolko near Kesinga, he said the State Government is focusing on development of infrastructure in all the backward regions of the State. Since 2005, the Central Government has reduced financial allotment for development of KBK regions and the State Government had been compensating it by investing `120 crore under Biju KBK Yojana every year, the Chief Minister said, adding that the amount has now been enhanced to `220 crore.
In the ensuing five years, the State Government has set a target to invest `8,000 crore for development of Western Odisha and focus will be on improving irrigation potential in the region, he said. In wake of the drought condition, collection of water tax and agriculture loan from farmers has been stopped. Under MGNREGA, 200 days of assured employment will be guaranteed and there would be 30 per cent hike in wages, Naveen said.
He claimed that in the last 15 years, Kalahandi is on the path of development with improvement of infrastructure, industrialisation and economy.
Senior BJD MLA Balabhadra Majhi alleged that the Congress has been conspiring to stall industrialisation in Kalahandi in the name of protecting tribals. He appealed to the Chief Minister for establishment of the proposed agriculture university in Kalahandi.
Among others, Minister Puspendra Singhdeo, Lok Sabha member Arkakesari Deo, Rajya Sabha member Bhupinder Singh, MLAs Anama Naik, Dibyasankar Mishra and Dhaneswar Majhi also spoke.
Drones were used to keep a vigil on anti-social elements in the crowd at the Chief Minister’s meeting. At least 54 BJP workers from Kesinga and 11 Congress members from Bhawanipatna were taken into preventive custody. They were released after Naveen left the district.