Bhubaneswar: Union Rural Development minister Jairam Ramesh on Saturday lambasted the Odisha government for its mining-focused development policy.
"The state’s growth is possible only if it gives first priority to agriculture sector. The second priority should be given to tourism. But unfortunately, in the past 13 years, only mining sector has flourished in the state while education and health are still lagging. There is no growth of agriculture," stated Ramesh. The Union minister was in the city to attend a public meeting in Kendrapara.
Expressing concern over the growth of farmers, the minister said meeting of the BJD government had paid no heed to their issues while policy decisions taken by the Congress during 1990s led to the growth of agriculture sector in Odisha.
“I would say, the green revolution in Kalahandi district was possible due to the Upper Indravati Project, a decision taken by the Congress government,” he stressed.
When asked on Odisha’s demand for special category status, the Union minister said, "In my view, all states with per capita income less than the national average should be accorded special category status for 10 years."
Ramesh objected the state government's version that implementation of the recently proposed Food Security Bill will lead to fall in Central foodgrain allocation. "Odisha is currently getting 20 lakh tonnes of foodgrains and it will receive 22 lakh tonnes under the new Bill," maintained he.
On the other hand, refuting the allegations of Ramesh, health minister Dr Damodar Rout said, "It would be wrong to say that the state government has not done anything for the agriculture sector. When Naveen Patnaik came to power in 2000, the State's total foodgrain production was 55 lakh metric tonnes which has reached 92 lakh metric tonnes now. Besides, Odisha is the second State in the country after Karnataka to present a separate budget for the sector"
On the mining issue raised by the union minister, Rout clarified the power of allotment of mining leases was with central government and 90% of these allotments were made during Congress government in Odisha.