Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Though the Odisha government had earlier announced to provide electric scooters to the members of the Self Help Groups (SHGs) in the State under the Mission Shakti Scooter Yojana, it seems that the decision has been changed. Instead of electric scooters, the beneficiaries have been provided petrol-run scooters. The development has triggered resentment among the beneficiaries as they now have to bear fuel costs along with the EMIs of the vehicle.

Announcement vs reality!

While the government is giving a boost to Electronic Vehicles (EVs) by providing subsidies, the exception in the case of SHGs has raised several eyebrows.

As per reports, the State government had made a budget provision of Rs 50 crore under the Mission Shakti Scooter Yojana in 2023-24 to provide electric scooters for the mobility support of the Community Support Staff (CSS) and Executive Committee (EC) members of women SHGs. However, when the scheme was implemented, the beneficiaries were reportedly provided petrol-run scooters instead of electric ones.

Fuel cost & EMI burden

The development has only increased the financial burden on the beneficiaries. Though the government will take care of the interest cost, the beneficiaries will have to bear the monthly instalments along with the fuel cost. Many questioned, when the Community Resource Persons (CRPs), Master Book Keepers (MBKs) and Bank Mitras get monthly salaries of only Rs 3,000 to 7,000, how will they afford the EMIs? When the budget was once approved in the Assembly, how could it be changed outside the House?

“Had the government provided us electric scooters, we would not have to bear the fuel cost. We are getting a meagre amount of Rs 3,000 per month. After paying the monthly instalment of Rs 2,000, how will we run our family and bear the fuel cost with only Rs 1,000?” asked Smita Patnaik, Mission Shakti member from B Singhpur.

“We will face lots of problems to pay the instalment of scooters along with the fuel cost. We request the government to consider our ordeal,” said G Aruna, a member of an SHG from Jeypore.

“We are getting a meagre salary and are unable to pay the instalment and bear the fuel cost. We request the government to increase our salary,” said Anupama Nayak, a CRP from Soro.

Failed promises & assurances?

Had the beneficiaries been provided with electric scooters, they would have saved on fuel and got the subsidy amount of Rs 20,000 per electric vehicle. Moreover, getting a driving license in the case of electric scooters would have been easier.

Meanwhile, the Opposition parties have questioned the intention of the government. 

“Had the government provided EVs, the SHG women would not have to pay big EMIs and bear the fuel cost. Now, they can’t get subsidies. The State government has cheated the SHG women,” said Odisha BJP Vice-President, Golak Mohapatra.

“The BJD government never keeps its promises. They tell one thing and do another thing. How much salary are the SHG women getting? From where will they bring money to pay the instalments and bear the petrol cost?” questioned Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) President, Sarat Pattanayak.

However, the ruling BJD brushed aside the allegations by the Opposition parties.

“The allegations by the Opposition parties are baseless. In Kerala and Rajasthan, the SHG women are provided scooters at a nine per cent interest rate. The situation is quite better in Odisha,” said BJD leader, Ishwar Chandra Panigrahi.