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Odisha Govt Conditionally Agrees To NITI Aayog’s “Aspirational District Programme”

13 March 2018


Bhubaneswar: Odisha Government has agreed to participate in the aspirational districts programme organised by the NITI Aayog on certain conditions. Apart from demanding more funds for the “Most Backward Districts”, changing the list of districts and appointment of fresh Prabhari Officers, are two more conditions which the State Government has demanded.

The aspirational district programme is the flagship programme of the NDA government to scale up development in 115 Districts. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has agreed to join in this program in which nine districts of Odisha are needed to be included with separate funds.

Earlier, the State Government rejected the proposal of Centre; however after recent visit of NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar to Odisha and meeting with Chief Minister, the State Government has agreed to join in the program with the aforementioned conditions. Chief Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi has written to the NITI Aayog Chief Executive Officer, Amitabh Kant proposing the conditions, said sources.

Earlier eight districts from Odisha had been identified and listed as “Backward” by the NITI Aayog. Those districts were Kalahandi, Kandhamal, Rayagada, Gajapati, Malkangiri, Koraput, Balangir and Dhenkanal. However the State Government while adding two most backward districts Nabarangpur and Nuapada in the list deleted Dhenkanal.

Detailing out a comparison the State Government has said that both the tribal zone districts are lower than Dhenkanal, which has better socio-economic indicators. State Government has said that in view of latest socio-economic indicators the NITI Aayog may revisit identification of the districts based on inputs provided by the State Government.

The State Government has provided a fresh panel for appointment of ‘Prabhari Officers’, while rejecting earlier list prepared by NITI Aayog. Chief Secretary has said that after the fresh appointment of these Prabhari Officers, they will work jointly with the Secretaries nominated by the State Government for each identified districts.

Development Commissioner will be designated as Nodal Officer for the State and the Prabhari Officers along with Secretary and above level officers identified for the districts will make a presentation before the State Level Committee headed by Chief Secretary. Thereafter, the Prabhari Officers may submit their report incorporating the views of the State Government to the empowered Committee of Secretaries constituted by the Government of India.

The deployment of Flexi Funds under various Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) for addressing the specific developmental needs of these districts is not providing any additionality to these “Most Backward Districts”, pointed out the State Government.

Padhi has said that without substantial additional resource flow for the development of these districts that so called new initiative would remain only a “Statement of Intent”.

So the State Government said restoration of Central Assistance for backward districts in KBK, Central Assistance for Area Specific Development Programs like Special Plan for KBK, Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF), Integrated Action Plan (IAP) for Left Wing Extremists (LWE) Affected districts is needed. Padhi has said that “if the views of the State Government on the issue of selection of districts, selection of Prabhari Officers and monitoring mechanism for District Visit are accepted by NITI Aayog and Government of India, then it may be possible to jointly work in this area”.