Rural development spending in Odisha slashed for 2nd time in a row

Allocation for rural development in 2019-20 is Rs 5, 531 crore against Rs 5,582 crore in 2018-19. The 2016-17 actual spending on rural development was Rs 7, 275 crore

Bhubaneswar: With CM Naveen Patnaik’s pet programme  ‘Ama Gaon, Ama Bikas’ witnessing a big cut in allocation to Rs 400 crore in 2019-20 budget from a whopping Rs 1,250 crore in 2017-18, the budget delivered a shocker as for the second time in succession it has pruned the expenditure on rural development.

The giant effect then is, the per capita expenditure on rural development in 2019-20 has slipped to mere Rs 1,316 based on 2011 census of 4.2 crore population vis-a-vis an average of Rs 1,711 for the period 2015-19. Even, when the projected 2018 population of 4.65 crore in 2018 is taken into account, the per capita expenditure on rural development comes at mere Rs 1,399.

It is worth mentioning here that Odisha is the third highest populated (rural) State in country after Bihar and Assam.

However, when contrasted with neighbouring States like Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh having rural population of around 78 per cent and 72 per cent, respectively, the per capita rural expenditure were pegged higher at Rs 2,461 and Rs 2,298, respectively in 2017-18.

Similarly, neighbouring States like Chhattisgarh and West Bengal with rural population of 80 per cent and 72 per cent, respectively, had per capita rural expenditure at Rs 1,746 and Rs 1,763, respectively, in 2017-18.

As per the budget announcements, the total allocation for rural development in 2019-20 is Rs 5, 531 crore against Rs 5,582 crore in 2018-19. The expenditure on rural development in 2016-17 actuals was Rs 7, 275 crore.

An analysis of total expenditure on rural development as a proportion to total budgeted expenditure for the period 2011-15 and 2015-19 revealed that the proportion was around 5.8 per cent for the period 2011-15, which then shot up to 9.7 per cent of total budgeted expenditure for period 2015-19.

While Odisha has increased the proportionate spending on rural development by 3.9 per cent during the period 2015-19, two successive cuts in spending may turn the clock again for the State.

Nationally, Nagaland with 82 per cent rural population had recorded the highest increase of 7 per cent in 2015-19.

As State’s expenditure on rural development meant allocation of matching grants for all rural schemes like PMGSY, Rural water supply programmes, Deendayal Antyoday Yojana,  Deendayal Upadhyaya – Gramin Kaushal Yojana (DDU – GKY), MGNREGA and Swachh Bharat Mission, it may have a direct impact on State’s objective of reducing poverty and boosting rural employment, observed experts.