Saswat Singhdeo

Bhubaneswar: Incongruous data on several key metrics presented by different Odisha Ministers have drawn criticism from different quarters especially from the Opposition parties.

Recently, the State Finance Minister, Niranjan Pujari had mentioned that 70 lakh families are living in abject poverty in the State which has raised questions on the 428 schemes rolled out by the State government in last 20 years. However, as per government statistics, in 2004-05, there were 2.21 crore people below the poverty line and in 2011-12 the number came down to 1.38 crore. As per Finance Minister's statements, if 70 lakh families are living in poverty, then the total number of people below the poverty line should be at least 3.5 crore, which is quite high considering Odisha’s total population is 4.2 crore.

Pujari also said that Rs 5,115 crore was distributed among 43 lakh farmers of the State under the KALIA scheme, but three months back, the State Agriculture Minister had said that 51.05 lakh farmers were benefitted from the scheme.

Slamming the State government, BJP Spokesperson Golak Mohapatra said, “If 70 lakh families are living in poverty then what this State government was doing. In 20 years, leaders and politicians of this party have only looted the State. It is evident that they have only fooled the people of Odisha.”

Similarly, Congress MLA Mohammed Moquim also targeted the Odisha government and said, “The State government has put itself in trouble by presenting such divergent numbers. We will raise the issue in Assembly.”

In response to the alleged discrepancies in facts and figures, BJD Spokesperson Pratap Deb said, “There will be some degree of difference in numbers. Opposition's argument is not right.”

Commenting on the matter, political expert Prasanna Mohanty said, “Looking at the numbers given by the State govt, it seems like a statistical cobweb. The govt should issue clarifications.”