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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: The portfolio allocations in the Modi 2.0 have witnessed a paradigm shift as some of the weighty ministries saw a change in guard. And the tectonic shift extends very much into the domain of the two sworn-in ministers from Odisha.

While Dharmendra Pradhan retained the Petroleum Ministry, the Skill Development & Entrepreneurship ministry has been given to Mahendranath Pandey. It needs to be reminded that the Skill Ministry was given to Pradhan, post dropping of Rajiv Pratap Rudy some two years ago. However, PM Modi has bestowed the additional charge of Steel Ministry on Pradhan.

It seems Pradhan has been retained as the country's oil minister as PM Modi is keen to ensure a continuity in the successful implementation of flagship programmes like Ujjwala run by the Oil ministry.

Similarly, Pratap Sarangi, the new entrant from Odisha in the Modi 2.0 Council of Ministers, has been made MoS in significant ministries like MSME and Animal Husbandry, Diary & Fisheries.

PM Modi during poll campaign in Odisha had elaborated on the need of blue revolution (fishery sector) in Odisha, given its long coastline. He had also harped on dairy development in Odisha to double farmer income by 2022.

In the given context, allocation of ministries to two ministers from Odisha doesn't look to be an out of turn allocation, rather it seems guided by a rational strategy as the ministries allocated have a big say in Odisha's economy.

How the Steel Ministry is of high significance for Odisha could well be ascertained from the facts to the fore in the recently concluded Make in Odisha 2.0.

The public sector units like SAIL and Nalco have made an investment intention of Rs1.38lakh crore or around 33 per cent of the total commitments worth 4.19lakh crore made in the mega summit.

It is pertinent to mention here that on every one lakh crore invested in steel and metal sector, the job churn out rate is a whopping 66,000. As the commitments run over Rs 1.38 crore, the proposals have the potential to create around 92,000 job opportunities in Odisha. And as most PSUs come under the Ministry of Steel, appointment of Pradhan as Steel Minister will have a positive impact on the implementation aspect of the investments planned by the PSUs last year.

Moreover, as Odisha is among the top 10 states accounting for the highest number of MSMEs in the country, the allocation of MoS, MSME to Pratap Sarangi indicates at a well thought out plan behind the ministry allocation exercise.

The nagging fact to point here is the MSME units in Odisha are not in the pink of the health. A whopping around 11,750 micro and small units have been labelled as sick by the RBI. As the sector is the largest job provider in Odisha, the allocation of the ministry to Sarangi assumes significance.

Similarly, in the dairy sector, it's not all milk and honey for Odisha. Milk farmers often bear the brunt as the milk procurement is mere 8 per cent of the total milk production. And reason behind low procurement is lack of bulk cooler capacity in the State to the tune of milk production. Such a low procurement has heralded a condition of distress scenario for the milk farmers in Odisha.

The experts are of the opinion that as both the MSMEs and Dairy and Animal Husbandry ministries have a MoS from Odisha, both Centre and State could coordinate to usher in policy imperatives to give a boost to the sectors.

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