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Naveen promises sun and moon

Bhubaneswar, March 29: BJD chief Naveen Patnaik today promised two major schemes — Chief Minister Sadak Yojana and Chief Minister Employment Generation Scheme — in the party manifesto in tune with the central government-sponsored schemes of Pradhan Mantri Sadak Yojana and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).

While Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana aims to provide good all-weather road connectivity to villages, the Chief Minister Sadak Yojana intends to provide connectivity to all villages having a population of 100 and less that cannot be covered under any other existing scheme. All panchayats will be connected by transport facilities under the Biju Gaon Gadi Yojana and each panchayat headquarters will have hi-mast lights along with modern street lighting facilities.

A new expressway connecting north and south Odisha will be built and this will run through the backward regions of west Odisha and KBK districts.

Under the Chief Minister Employment Generation Scheme, the BJD government plans to impart skill training and subsequent loan and subsidy linkage to a minimum of 150 youths from each gram panchayat. Besides, an “Odisha Youth Innovation Fund” will be set up to assist young entrepreneurs.

Naveen, who has already announced a number of schemes, including a Rs 100-crore package for kendu leaf pluckers, most of whom are tribals, tried to appease all sections of the society in his manifesto.

In the 16-page manifesto released today, the BJD chief promised to provide loan subsidy to farmers and set up a second agriculture university that he plans to establish in the KBK region. Warehousing facilities will be created in all panchayats.

Sensing that slum-dwelling voters would play a major role in the urban and semi-urban areas of the state, Naveen promised establishment of a “slum rehabilitation board” to protect their interests. All slum dwellers will be covered under social sector schemes such as pensions and assistance for education. They will also be covered under health insurance scheme and Re-1-a-kg rice scheme.

“Special colony clusters with housing facilities will be created for these people,” Naveen said, adding that a shelter security mission under the chief minister will monitor all the initiatives.

A separate welfare board would also be set up for the unorganised sector.

The BJD has also made it clear that it would go on singing its signature “anti-Centre” tune fight for special-category status for Odisha with emphasis on Odia “swabhiman” (self-pride).

“We will set up an Odia University to facilitate all-round development of the Odia language,” Naveen said in the manifesto. The party has also decided to raise the issue of central neglect in areas such as railways, revision of mining royalty and discrimination of central funding for schemes.

In order to promote education, the BJD also promises to set up model public schools in each block and high schools in panchayats. “Girl students will be provided with an interest subsidy of six per cent and boy students an interest subsidy of four per cent on education loans sanctioned by banks for their technical and professional education so as to reduce the burden on their parents,” the manifesto said. Earlier, the state government had introduced a laptop scheme for students.

Both Congress and the BJP described the manifesto as unrealistic.

Congress leader Narsingha Mishra said: “The BJD manifesto is just an election gimmick.”


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