"If you (Govt) have been able to reduce the poverty by 24.6 per cent, then why hapless couples sold their children and why people migrate to other states to make a living," asked Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra while initiating debate on the Odisha Appropriation Bill, 2014, tabled by Finance minister Pradip Kumar Amat in the assembly.
Slamming the BJD government ruling the state for 14 years, Mishra wanted to know the long term measures to eradicate poverty. "Providing cheap rice, umbrella, blanket and uniform to school children may help the poor survive, but this cannot eradicate poverty," the Congress stalwart said.
"This government has no specific programme to reduce poverty. The rates of poverty can only decline only if there is programmes and schemes in health, irrigation, agriculture and education sectors. The state's BJD government have failed in all these fronts," Mishra pointed out.
Ridiculing state government's claim that Odisha was revenue surplus, he asked why over 75,000 posts of teachers remained vacant? Education system is in disarray with huge vacancies in schools and colleges. "I am shocked to learn that a large number of teachers post remain vacant in poverty stricken KBK region including Balangir district," Mishra said.
The Congress leader also pointed out how the teachers are staging agitations in the state capital demanding their remuneration and not taking the classes, thereby affecting studies of students. Justifying his claim that the state government also failed in agriculture sector, he said Governors of Odisha from 2006 have been announcing that the state government was committed to 35% of irrigation in all cultivable land in each of the 314 blocks in the state.
"Can the state government now say how many blocks have received 35 per cent irrigation facilities," Mishra said adding CAG report has also rightly pointed out on the state's failure in achieving the target in irrigation. He asked the Chief Minister as to why his government failed to take up any medium or major irrigation project during the last 14 years.
Mishra said irrigation projects which were initiated before 2000, are yet to see light of the day. "The Aung and Lower Suktel projects also suffer due to negligence of the state government," he said.
"There has been no provision of taking long term measures to fight out poverty," Mishra said and claimed that the state government does not have its own figure on the number of poor families living in Odisha. "In absence of a specific poor figure, how can the government make plans and programmes," he said.
Citing recent incident of a couple allegedly selling their three children, the Congress leader said "It is a shame for all of us that the parents sale their children now in the state capital." The Leader of Opposition said the state can generate additional revenue of Rs 75,000 crore from defaulting mining companies and another Rs 30,000 crore from traders as per Sanjiv Hota commission recommendation.
On Polavaram issue, he said the state government must come out with the impact of the dam project on the state before fighting against it.