Union Agri minister unhappy with fund utilisation by Odisha

Bhubaneswar: Expressing displeasure over non-utilisation of Central funds by the Odisha government, Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh on Saturday said the State government lost Rs 50 crore due to its failure to submit the detailed project report (DPR) for the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana on time.

After a review meeting of the Central schemes in the State, Singh told media persons, “Under several schemes, the funds which have come to the State are only half of the total allocation to Odisha. Unless the State government sends report on spending of funds, the Centre cannot release more funds.”

“In agriculture development, we have come to know after a review that the expenditure of funds is not done expeditiously,” he said.

Countering the charges, Pradeep Maharathy, Odisha Agriculture Minister said, “Around 70-80% of the Central funds have been spent. Surely, we will send the utilization certificate to the Centre after spending the rest of the funds before March 31.”

Meanwhile, politics has intensified ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bargarh visit to attend a farmers’ rally tomorrow.

Ruling BJD questioned the purpose of Modi’s visit wondering why the Prime Minister had suddenly woken up to the plight of Odisha farmers nearly two years after coming to power.

Pratap deb, BJD Spokesperson, said, “The Centre has been giving importance to industrial or infrastructural development or Make in India kind of programmes. I feel that the government has been somewhat away from the issues of farmers of the country. After two years of coming to power, the Prime Minister and BJP have suddenly started thinking about farmers.”

In the Centre’s defence, Dharmendra Pradhan, Union minister, said, “The Centre has implemented the Krushak Bima Yojana and Soil Health Yojana for benefit of farmers. Besides, the States were asked to prepare master plans for the district-level Pradhan Mantri Sinchai Yojana. The main purpose of the Prime Minister’s visit is to strengthen the backbone of farmers. The BJD’s statement is laughable and unfortunate.”

Begging to differ, Ramchandra Khuntia, senior Congress leader stated, “Neither the Centre nor the State is not doing anything for farmers. Above all, they don’t have sympathy towards the farmers.”

He added, “Farmers should be provided with drought relief money immediately and special package should be announced for them.”