Prashant Kumar Dash
Bhubaneswar, Jan 14: The current visit of chief minister Naveen Patnaik to Kalahandi on Thursday is going to add a new chapter to Odisha. Naveen is too keen to take the economy of the poverty- stricken Kalahandi upto a new apex to see the aborigines smile through his bouquet of development projects across the district.
Dedicating Upper Indravati Mega Irrigation project, inaugurating 43.26 km of swish canal,1142 km. elongated siphon network along with a number of upcoming projects will bring about a new era of development and sustainable livelihood for the inhabitants.
Besides, massive funding of Rs 2085 crore is a one time achievement for Kalahandi from economic point of view. This could redefine the picture Kalahandi in Odisha’s canvas of community development, so hope some social activists. As on yester years a majority of tribal communities dwelling in Kalahandi continue to depend upon subsistence agriculture including shifting cultivation.
Agricultural production fluctuates from year to year under the impact of natural calamities. Droughts, famine and floods affect their lives and livelihood badly. Because of this reason a large proportion of the rural poor and tribals in particular face severe food insecurity and depend on forests for their livelihood and subsistence.
That is why special area development approach especially for KBK and Western Odisha Development Council were formulated with a view to accelerate its development. A Long Term Action Plan (LTAP) for the KBK districts was formulated in consultation with the Government of India for a period of seven years from 1995-96 to 2001-02 and was formally launched by the then Prime Minister in 1995. LTAP was formulated for drought proofing ,poverty alleviation and development saturation.
However, only a meager allocation of Rs. 20.49 crore was received as additional assistance during the first three years from 1995-96 to 1997-98. Therefore, LTAP; 1995-2002 did not take off due to non-availability of sufficient funds.
A Revised Long Term Action Plan (RLTAP) for the KBK districts was submitted to Government of India in 1998 on their advice. This project envisaged an integrated approach for speeding up the socio-economic development of the KBK region, of which Kalahandi forms a part. Government of India used to provide Additional Central Assistance (ACA)/ along with Special Central Assistance (SCA) to address the acute food insecurity, problem of migration and child mortality due to malnutrition.
All these provisions are comparatively less than the present gift of Naveen to Kalahandi. Dedicating about Rs 2086 crores from the state fund is not only an exemplary contribution of the government but a bulk working capital for public sector undertakings and the private sector.