Bhubaneswar, Oct. 5: The Raghuram Rajan Committee report that has done away with the special category state status has angered chief minister Naveen Patnaik.
“The report has disappointed us. The state that has been neglected over the years has started marching on the path of development. It needs central assistance and not anybody’s mercy,” Naveen said while inaugurating housing projects for slum dwellers here today.
Naveen said the state had been neglected in getting assistance in railways, infrastructure and mining sector.
He also claimed that there was an inclusive growth. Finance minister Prasanna Acharya also spoke about state’s development.
However, the Opposition parties trained their guns on the Naveen Patnaik government for “misleading” the people on the issue of development over the past decade. The government said it required more time to be on a par with other developed states though it was surging ahead on the growth path.
Union minister of fertiliser and chemicals Srikant Jena, in a letter to the chief minister, today said: “The committee has exposed the poverty and backwardness of the state.” Blaming Naveen, Jena asked “whom should we blame for the alarming state of Odisha?” He indicated that Naveen and his father, late Biju Patnaik, had ruled the state for more than 21 years.
The state government claimed that it had made impressive achievements in terms of economic growth and poverty reduction. While it had projected 8.23 per cent growth rate during the 11th Five-Year Plan (2007-2012), it envisages an average annual growth rate of 9 per cent in 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-2017).
It also claimed the real per capita income of the state at 2004-05, prices increased from Rs 14,862 in 1999-2000 to Rs 26,900 in 2011-12 and the poverty rate declined from 57.2 per cent in 2004-05 to 37 per cent in 2009-10. It further declined to 29 per cent and the state has Rs seven lakh crore investments in the pipeline.
Former Union secretary Nilamadhab Mohanty said Odisha had made substantial progress on the economic front. “To overcome its backwardness, it should have made a faster economic growth compared to other states,” he said, adding that efforts should be made to bring more investments rather than indulging in distribution of freebies.
Stating that the Rajan committee had served its purpose and Odisha could hope to get a substantial amount of central assistance as the “least developed state” in the country, Mohanty said: “It has done its job thoroughly. The committee categorised the states keeping international practices in mind.”
He said the committee had identified a new formula to find out the extent of poverty in a region.
“With this recommendation, Odisha’s purpose of getting the special category status is fulfilled. Now, funds will be distributed under a new methodology,” said Mohanty. He also made it clear that the committee had only recommended the formula and the final decision now rested on the National Development Council, which would decide allocation of the central funds.
A survey by an international organisation in 2011 had equated Odisha with a sub-Saharan African country.
Hailing the report, economist Baidyanath Mishra said: “There is a difference between economic growth and economic development. On the part of economic growth, Odisha has made some improvement — the rate of investment and the per capita income have increased. But, when we talk of economic development, it takes into consideration 15 parameters such as health, education, infrastructure and so on. Odisha’s development on these parameters is much less compared to other states.”
As Odisha is at the bottom of all states, Mishra said: “Odisha and Bihar will get maximum economic benefit. I, being an Odia, don’t disagree to the demand for the special category status. But what is the use of demanding it now? Of the 11 states that have been accorded the status, other than Assam, no state has made any progress. What is important is how you utilise your resources and the central funds for development.”
Acharya said: “Our growth rate has been good over the past few years. Our economy was not in a good shape. During the Naveen Patnaik’s regime, it has taken an upward trend. It will take a few more years to come on a par with other states.”