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Opposition cries tamper in survey report

Bhubaneswar, Feb. 15: The Opposition has disputed the rosy picture of the economy painted in the governor’s address to the Assembly yesterday and accused the state government of trying to mislead people.

Senior leaders of the Congress and the BJP alleged that during the 12 years of Naveen Patnaik’s rule, the rich had become richer and the poor poorer. “The claims made by the government are self contradictory. The government appears confused,” said senior Congress leader Narasingha Mishra, referring to the governor’s speech, which mentioned that the poverty in the state had declined from 57.2 per cent in 2004-05 to 37 per cent in 2009-10.

Mishra said the figures mentioned in the State Economic Survey for 2011-12 and the claims made in the governor’s address — which is traditionally drafted by the government — were contradictory. He said the fact was that people’s purchasing power had gone down over the years and poverty had increased.

“Had poverty gone down, the government would not have felt obliged to reduce the price of public distribution system (PDS) rice from Rs 2 a kg to Re 1,” said Mishra.

Interestingly, while the governor, in his speech, claimed that poverty in Odisha had declined from 57.2 per cent in 2004-05 to 37 per cent in 2009-10, the economic survey in 2011-12 states that the poverty ratio in Odisha in 2004-05 was 39.9 per cent.

“There appears to be discrepancy in the figures mentioned in the governor’s speech and the economic survey,” said another Opposition leader.

Reacting to the government’s claim on the poverty reduction, former minister and senior BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra said: “The government’s claim is not believable. They have manipulated figures to suit their aims. Poverty can be reduced only through sincere social sector programmes. But, that has not happened.”

The Opposition has also questioned the government’s claim on increase of the real per capita income from Rs 14,862 in 1999-2002 to Rs 26,900 in 2011-12.

“If that were true, where is the need for reducing the price of rice? The government should also not try to include more families in the BPL list,” said leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh.

The state government recently reduced the price of PDS rice from Rs 2 a kg to Re 1, at which, it would be made available to 36.90 lakh BPL families, 12.52 lakh Antyodaya Anna Yojana families and 5.35 lakh above poverty line families in the KBK belt, where PDS rice is distributed equally among all sections.

However, panchayati raj minister Kalpataru Das argued that more people needed to be included in the BPL list.

According to the N.C. Saxena Committee report, nearly 84 per cent people in Odisha were living below poverty line.

The minister’s statement itself contradicts the government’s claim of poverty reduction.