Bhubaneswar: After managing to come out of the cobweb of confrontations and controversies in 2016, the Odisha government will set its feet on its fourth year of its fourth term in 2017. But some of the challenges it had encountered last year will chase like a shadow in 2017.
Out of the major challenges the state government will have in the New Year is Panchayat elections which will be held in mid-February. The popularity of the BJD government will be put to question if it loses seats in the Zilla Parishads.
Besides, the ongoing rows relating to Mahanadi water sharing with Chhattisgarh government and Polavaram multi-purpose project with the Andhra Pradesh government will be a tough challenge for the state government. On Mahanadi issue, it will be a victory for the Odisha government if the Centre puts brake on the ongoing projects on Upper Mahanadi by the Chhattisgarh government. However, going by the developments of Polavaram project with the Centre declaring it as a national project and sanctioning Rs 1981 crore to the Andhra Pradesh government, the issue has certainly gone out of hand of the Odisha government.
Another challenge for the state government in the New Year would be revenue generation which was severely dented due to demonetisation drive by the Centre in November.
Despite a series of welfare measures, the state government has failed to bring down the poverty rate in Odisha especially in rural areas where 1.28 crore poor. The government has a tough challenge to substantially bring down the poverty ratio in 2017.
Besides, industrialisation will be an acid test for the state government in 2017. With the steel majors like Posco and ArcelorMittal backing out of Odisha, the state government hopes for a sizeable investment to the tune of Rs 2.3 lakh through the Make in Odisha conclave it had organised in December. It would be a real challenge for the government to ensure that the volume of investments as promised by the companies at the conclave is put into practice.
Another challenge the state government will have in 2017 is left wing extremism. Though Odisha had a major success against the Maoists with a major onslaught in October killing about 30 Red Rebels, the latter have come back with a vengeance killing innocent tribals in the district. Considering the sequence of events, the government will have to act tough to drive them out of the state.
This apart, incidents like Nagada child malnourishment, Japanese Encephalitis in Malkangiri and Dana Majhi carrying the body of his wife on shoulder had exposed the gross failure of the state government in providing health care services to the poor.
Taking a leaf out of such incidents, it is hoped that the state government will try its best to ensure that such incidents would not occur again in 2017.