Assembly session begins amid noisy scenes

Bhubaneswar: Amidst boycott of his speech by opposition alleging BJD government`s failure on all fronts and its role in dal scam, governor M C Bhandare on Monday unfolded plans for 36 per cent increase in the plan size for 2011-12 to achieve speedy and sustainable economic growth.

As the budget session of the state Assembly opened on a stormy note, Congress members boycotted the Governor`s address while BJP MLAs demonstrated in the well by displaying rotten dal being supplied to schools and anganwadi centres under mid-day meal and supplementary nutrition programme.

Slamming Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik over a series of scams, including irregularities in the supply of pulses for children and pregnant women, leader of opposition Bhupinder Singh led the Congress boycott of the governor`s address.

"Patnaik must take moral responsibility for dal scam and his government`s failure on all fronts," Singh said.

Seeking Patnaik`s resignation, BJP members rushed to well shouting anti-government slogans and exhibited infected dal collected from different schools and anganwadi centres.

BJP`s Jay Narayan Mishra and Independent member Pratap Sarangi gave parallel speeches from the well as the governor was reading out the 48-page address.

Though NCP members were silent, party MLA Ramachandra Hansda displayed a placard demanding special grant for tribal dominated Keonjhar, Mayurbhanj and Dhenkanal districts in order to end regional imbalance and disparities.

While Opposition targeted ruling BJD over dal scam, the Governor said the state has implemented a host of plans and programmes for holistic development of women and children.

"Government has initiated a Nutrition Operation Plan to address the nutrition condition of particularly those from most vulnerable sections of the society where malnourishment is highest," Bhandare said.

Claiming that the state government has been striving to achieve inclusive economic growth, he said, "During the first three years of the 11th plan, an annual average growth rate of 8.73 per cent has been achieved."

An increase of about 36 per cent has been envisaged in the plan size for 2011-12 over the current year. An outlay of Rs 15,000 crore has been proposed by the state government for the annual plan of 2011-12, he said.

Bhandare also lauded the state government`s fiscal management plan which had ensured improvement in the fiscal condition during last few years. "Our dependence on borrowing has consequently declined," Bhadare said.

Terming the left wing extremism as a major cause of concern, the Governor said due to effective deployment of forces and sustained police action, naxal violence has significantly dropped in the state during 2010.

There were 87 deaths and 130 naxal related incidents in the state during 2010, he said adding that the government had taken steps to fill up vacant posts in the police.

Stating that royalty from minerals as the second highest source of the state`s revenue, the Governor said that the mining revenue is likely to touch 3,000 crore by end of the fiscal.

He, however, pointed out that though royalty on non-coal minerals has changed from tonnage to ad-valorem regime, the upward revision of royalty for coal was long over due. "The government of India is yet to revise it in spite of repeated requests from the state government," the governor said.

Bhandare also outlined several measures taken by the state government to curb illegal mining. Concerned over the development of the mines area, he said that the state government had decided to constitute a special development fund. "It is proposed to utlise 5 per cent of the mining revenue collected from an area for the development of the impacted area through the fund," he said.

Agitating Congress members who returned to the house after Bhandare`s speech again boycotted the government chief whip R N Pani`s motion of thanks on governor`s address.