Orissa is rich, but its people are poor: Rahul

Bhubaneswar: Though Orissa is rich in mineral resources, its people continue to remain under acute poverty as they do not get benefits from the developmental activities, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said on Thursday.

"Orissa is not poor, but its people are deprived of benefits from the resources," Gandhi said at a public meeting here while winding up his two-day tour of the state.

"You have iron ore, bauxite and many other precious minerals. But surprisingly poverty among people of Orissa is highest in the country," the AICC general secretary said blaming the BJD government in the state for not giving poor their genuine dues.

Terming direct export of minerals from the state as "wrong" Gandhi said the poor people do not get any benefit from this process. "You should get the benefit from the mineral wealth here," Gandhi said.

Citing instance of Posco project, he claimed that the Centre had sent the South Korean steel major to the state for setting up its mega steel plant and the basic objective was to provide jobs to the poor.

"Let not rich alone take advantage from Posco project.

The poor should also get the benefit," Gandhi said, adding he was pained to know that the poor children were fed inferior dal in their mid-day meals in schools.

Giving instances of Congress-ruled states, Gandhi pointed out that poor people in Maharashtra, Delhi, Haryana and Andhra Pradesh were getting direct benefits from the developmental programmes while they were denied such facilities in state like Orissa.

"MGNREGA, MDM and other schemes are working in full swing in Andhra Pradesh while CBI is probing rural job scam in Orissa," he said asking people to oust the "corrupt" BJD government in order to help the poor to come out of poverty.

UPA governemnt was planning to bring Right to Food Bill, Rahul Gandhi said and wondered if it could be properly implemented in Orissa. "I fear whether the Orissa government can implement the food rights perfectly," he said.

Dubbing the ruling BJD as a government for rich people`, Rahul Gandhi asked the gathering to spread the Congress message in villages in order to oust the state government for a better tomorrow.

Earlier in the day Gandhi participated in two youth interaction programmes at Khurda and Bhadrak where he asked young men and women to join Youth Congress to change the fate of the state.

"Congress means development of poor, tribals, dalits, backward and minorities," Gandhi said.