Naveen rues delay in Central aid for rural projects

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New Delhi: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday expressed grave concern over the inordinate delay in the release of Central assistance and sanction of key projects in the Maoist prone and remote districts of Odisha.

During his meeting with the Union Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Drinking Water and Sanitation minister Chaudhary Birender Singh in the national capital, Patnaik said inadequate allocation and delay in release of Central assistance are adversely affecting implementation of vital programmes relating to rural drinking water, rural livelihoods, rural employment guarantee scheme and Indira Awas Yojana (IAY). He urged the Union minister to restore the allocation under these programmes and to release the balance funds to the state urgently.

He informed that the proposal of the state government for construction of 24 road projects under Road Requirement Plan Phase-II covering a length of 375 kms at a cost of Rs 657 crore, as recommended by the Union Home ministry, may be sanctioned at the earliest since these road projects are critical for the Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected districts of Malkangiri and Koraput.

Though the Union Cabinet had approved the inclusion of 4035 left out unconnected habitations in the Core Network under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) in February, 2013, the proposal is still pending for approval, he pointed out. He requested the Union minister to approve these 4035 unconnected habitations at the earliest to enable the state government to prepare and submit Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) required for undertaking implementation of the projects.

Drawing the attention of the Union minister, Patnaik said the proposal of the state government for upgradation of 3000 kms of roads badly damaged by Cyclone Phailin, approved by the Pre-Empowered Committee, should be placed before the Empowered Committee of the ministry for sanction at the earliest.

Referring to the reduced allocation of Rs 78 crore under the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) during the current year 2015-16, which he said had adversely impacted the implementation of the programme, the Chief Minister requested the Union minister to restore the allocation under NRDWP to at least Rs 250 crore, as provided for in the previous years.

Pointing out that the Empowered Committee of the ministry, which had recommended Rs 141.64 crore for the year 2015-16, has restricted the approval to only Rs 60.43 crore for Odisha, he demanded release of the balance amount of Rs 28.89 crore to the state within the current financial year.

The chief minister also demanded early release of the balance amount of Rs 503.74 crore under IAY which includes the entitlement under IAY (Normal) Rs 413.98 crore for 2015-16, IAY (Forest Rights Act) Rs 82.91 crore for 2013-14 and IAY (Primitive Tribal Groups) Rs 6.85 crore for 2013-14.

Besides, he also said of the Rs 2116.80 crore Centre share towards labour budget under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), the ministry has released only Rs 1479.41 crore. He urged the Union minister to sanction and release the balance amount of Rs 637.39 crore at the earliest.

Patnaik also proposed to the Union minister to provide the required additional funds for 235 blocks notified as drought-affected to provide additional 50 days of work over and above the 100 days mandated under the MGNREGS.

In his reply, the Union minister said his ministry would do its best to resolve all the issues.

As regards sanction of 24 road projects under Rural Roads Project (RRP)-II, Singh assured that funds for 4035 left out unconnected habitations in the core network will be sanctioned at the earliest under PMGSY after receiving the figures of population of each habitation based on 2001 Census from the state. Besides, 3000 kms of roads badly affected by Cyclone Phailin will also be approved by the Empowered Committee within a week, he told the chief minister.

On restoration of allocation under NRDWP, Singh said about Rs 91 crore had already been released to the state during the current year and another Rs 4-5 crore is expected to be released shortly.

Stating that Odisha will be provided additional funds from the savings available during March, 2016, for bulk water supply, the Union minster said additional Central assistance of Rs 295 crore is being released to the state under IAY.

“Apart from this, the state would be provided additional resources under National Rural Livelihoods Project (NRLP) and MGNREGS,” he told the chief minister.

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