With hardly a fortnight left for the 'lifeline' Panchayat polls in Odisha, the haze over the poll issues are getting cleared away.
The zero hour BJD uprisings in the Parliament for the two consecutive days lifts off the curtains over the issues dominating the rural polls in Odisha.
While in 2017 when BJD made its fighting point - the (Mahanadi) water, the opposition BJP fought on the issue of 'farming distress, suicides and PM Fasal Bima Yojana, the home truths about the 2022 Panchayat polls are out now - it's the RKM - not the blockbuster Roti, Kapada Aur Makan, but Rice, Kisan (Farmers) and Makan (PM Awas Yojana).
On Thursday, during the zero hours, three BJD MPs had raised the issue of PMAY-G (Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana - Gramin) alleging the step-motherly attitude of the Modi-led Central government to Odisha.
The MP's charges were - Central government has recently synchronised the Karnataka Housing Department data with Awaas + portal, whereby over 25 lakh people become eligible to get PMAY house, but despite CM Naveen Patnaik's repeated missives for 2.5 years, the Centre is not giving permission to synchronise 6.65 lakh new tribal beneficiaries from Odisha in the Awaas+ portal.
What Is Awaas +?
As per the Union Rural Development Ministry, Awaas+ is an android based mobile application. This application is exclusively made for the inspector to carry out the survey. The survey is based on some simple questions which will be related to the person who has to be included in the list. The survey is for the people who were not covered in the SECC 2011.
Objective: The prime motive of the application is to cover the people who are exempted from the PMAY-G benefits, for whom the scheme has been framed. Awaas+ is an extremely user-friendly application.
The Karnataka Bonus
As per the data available with Karnataka Housing Department, it has conducted a survey in the year 2018-19 (when Congress-JD(S) govt was in power) on the number of people having no own houses. The survey detected over 18 lakh families without houses. The data was uploaded on software developed by the State PSE (public service enterprise) Rajiv Gandhi Housing Corporation.
Since PMAY houses will be allotted to individuals listed on Awaas+, the Karnataka government has requested the Union Government, which has been approved by the centre recently.
Then Why Odisha Minus?
As per BJD MP Amar Patnaik, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik has been writing letters to the Centre for 2.5 years - means from the year 2019 onwards.
A glance at the Ministry of Rural Development reports reveal the following.
- Under the PM Awas Yojana (Gramin) a whopping over 18.36 lakh eligible beneficiaries were found in Odisha.
- In addition, under the AWAS+ based survey, another 7.46422 lakh were found eligible to avail of the PMAY-G.
- In sum, a total of 25.82 lakh households in Odisha are eligible to avail of the benefit under the PMAY-G scheme.
- But Odisha is demanding to include 6.65 lakh more.
The MoRD report further reveals that the Ministry had allowed states, including Odisha, to identify eligible left out families under PMAY-G via the Awaas Plus portal survey by March 7, 2019.
And the State had identified a total of 45,842 beneficiaries during the stipulated period. The Chief Minister in his letter cited the reasons behind the failure to complete the survey.
- Govt machinery was busy in the 2019 general elections preparatory work.
- Network problem
- Maoist violence
As per the MoRD report, after cyclone Fani struck Odisha, the Awaas + portal was opened for 14 affected districts, and the survey added 7.87 lakh new left out people.
Moreover, the condition is the house will be allotted to people listed in the Permanent Waiting List (PWL).
A Reality Check shows that while Karnataka survey was done in the year 2018-19 and the same had been registered with State PSE Rajiv Gandhi Housing Corporation, Odisha decided to carry out the survey after General Elections. For this, the MoRD had rejected the State Govt's request.
Rice And Kisan
On Friday, another heavyweight BJD MP Prasanna Acharya (a veteran leader from western Odisha) raised the issue of par-boiled rice in Rajya Sabha.
"FCI is not lifting off the surplus parboiled rice from Odisha in the year 2021-22. A target has been issued to lift only 5 lakh MT of parboiled rice and 2 lakh MT of raw rice. Odisha is now saddled with 15 lakh MT of surplus rice,” Acharya said.
With paddy procurement chaos brewing sentiment against the ruling BJD, especially in western Odisha, and when data shows western Odisha accounts for 79 per cent of the parboiled rice production in the State, the ruling BJD is trying to shift the onus to the Centre by blaming FCI's fiat.
Surplus Rice Stock - A Reality Check
As per veteran BJD leader, Prasanna Acharya, surplus rice of 15 lakh MT is with the State government. The surplus rice means rice transferred to the Central pool post-meeting Odisha's TPDS and NFSA requirements.
The FCI data as of Jan 16, 2022, shows that the total rice stocks in Odisha in the Central pool at 4.65 lakh metric tonne (LMT) - of which State agencies have 3.3LMT rice and FCI has 1.26 LMT.
In the backdrop of the reality checks, it seems the zero hour BJD uprising is to shift the blame on the Centre over the flip-flops in PMAY and rice procurement, after sensing the sentiment on the ground, feel political observers.