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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: Even as Odisha has been spending on an average 10 per cent of total expenditure every year on rural development during the period of 2017-18 to 2019-20, the State still fared poor and figured among the bottom-10 states in rural development index nationally.

As per the State Performance Report - 2018-19, Odisha could score mere 40 of a total of 100 in parameters of rural development. Except for Rural housing, Animal Husbandry, Drinking water and poverty alleviation, Odisha has scored F-Grade (fail grade) marks in important indicators like Health & sanitation, Agriculture, Land improvement, rural roads, Women & Child development, social welfare and education.

The State draws a big zero in the indices of rural roads, PDS, vocational education and rural electrification.

It needs mentioning here that Union Rural Development Ministry has drawn a state-wise assessment with regard to implementation of various Central-sponsored rural development programmes that aim at rural empowerment, dent poverty and unemployment.

The performance-sheet of the State drawn by Union Rural Development Ministry shows Odisha could score a mere 1 from a total of 7 in Agriculture. Similarly, the State could score mere 1 from a total of 9 in the indices of Land Improvement.

Both the indices have a profound impact on poverty alleviation. Union Rural Development ministry provide funds to states for improving productivity of farm land, which is basically accomplished through watershed projects. Odisha also fared poor in land distribution to landless labourers via effective land reform measures.

The slip-ups in these vital determinants show  why Odisha still steeped high in poverty.

With reports of pregnant women in rural Odisha being carried on a sling/cot becoming a regular feature for the simple reason of lack of motorable roads, it's then natural for the State to score mere 1 from a total of 5 marks in the indices of rural roads in the State Performance Report 2018-19.

Though the State government has been emphasising high on vocational education, the State Performance Report gives a reality check as it assigned a big zero to Odisha. The reason: Poor placement potential in current vocational courses dissuades rural youth to take up vocation education in rural areas.

Odisha also scored very poor in rural health and sanitation. The State could score mere 4 of 17 against a score of 6 by Bihar and Chhattisgarh.


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