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BJD protests ‘neglect’

Bhubaneswar, April 22: The BJD today organised a protest meeting in front of Raj Bhavan against Centre’s “consistent negligence” towards Odisha. The party submitted a memorandum to governor S.C. Jamir addressing it to President Pranab Mukherjee.

The party wants more funds under the special component plan of the back region grant fund and special category status for Odisha.

BJD vice-president and health minister Damodar Rout said: “The UPA government is ignoring Odisha’s cause on political grounds. The Congress leaders in the state should realise that the funds the Centre granted for the state are not the funds of a particular Congress leader. The fund belongs to the nation and it’s the right of the state to get central assistance.”

Stating that the Congress leaders should not feel that the Centre was doing a favour to the state by releasing funds under various schemes, Rout said the state was unable to spend the central fund on some occasions as the money was released late.

The party is peeved that the Centre ignored the state’s demand to include more districts and release adequate funds under the special plan of the backward region grant fund.

While it has been demanding Rs 4,500 crore under this plan, it was sanctioned Rs 1,250 crore (2012-17) under the special plan for the eight districts of KBK (undivided Koraput-Balangir-Kalahandi) region in the state.

What has angered the BJD is that under the same fund, government of India cabinet’s sub-committee on economic affairs sanctioned a special package of Rs 12,000 crore to Bihar. The backward region grant fund, which came into existence in 2006-07, is designed to redress regional imbalances in development.

BJD youth wing president Sanjay Dasburma said: “The dharna is a part of the party’s programme to create awareness among the people on the Centre’s negligence towards the state. The party will organise a three-day programme starting from tomorrow as a prelude to the 12-hour Odisha bandh on April 26.”

He said efforts were also being made to collect one crore signatures from across the state demanding special category status for Odisha.

Pradesh Congress Committee president Niranjan Patnaik said: “They (the BJD) are doing all sorts of drama keeping in mind the forthcoming election. The Centre has never said it would stop releasing funds to Odisha. However, the Odisha government must utilise the funds properly.”

On the demand of special category status, Patnaik said it was during the Congress regime that the Assembly had unanimously adopted resolutions twice (November 1997 and August 1998) demanding special category status for Odisha. “

We are also planning to meet UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on this issue,” said Patnaik.