Odisha seeks road connectivity to Maoist-affected districts

Bhubaneswar, March 8 (IANS) Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday urged the Centre to sanction critical road projects in the Left Wing Extremism (LWE)-affected districts and unconnected habitations in the state.

The state government proposal to construct 24 projects under the Road Requirement Plan Phase-II, covering a length of 375 km at a cost of Rs.657 crore, may be sanctioned at the earliest, the chief minister said during a meeting with union Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister Birender Singh in New Delhi.

The chief minister said these road projects were critical for the LWE-affected districts of Malkangiri and Koraput.

He said inadequate allocation and release of central assistance were adversely affecting implementation of vital programmes relating to rural drinking water, rural livelihoods, rural employment guarantee scheme and Indira Awaas Yojana.

Patnaik impressed upon the minister to restore the allocation under these programmes and to release the balance funds to the state urgently.

The chief minister said that though the union cabinet had approved the inclusion of 4,035 left-out unconnected habitations in the Core Network under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) in February 2013, the proposal was still pending approval in the union ministry.

He said the Odisha government proposal for the upgradation of 3,000 km roads badly damaged by Phailin cyclone should be placed before the ministry’s empowered committee for sanction at the earliest.

Patnaik said that the reduced allocation of Rs.78 crore under the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) during the 2015-16 fiscal had adversely impacted its implementation.

He urged Birender Singh to restore the allocation under NRDWP to at least Rs.250 crore, as provided for in the previous years.

He also urged for allocation of the balance funds under the National Rural Livelihoods Mission.

Patnaik said the state was yet to receive the approved central assistance of Rs.503.74 crore under the Indira Awaas Yojana and sought the release of the funds at the earliest.

The chief minister said that the central share of Rs.2,116.80 crore towards the labour budget under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) has not been fully released till date.

He said that the ministry had released only Rs.1,479.41 crore and that the state has been managing this important programme from out of its own resources since January 2016.

Patnaik also asked for the release of the balance amount of Rs.637.39 crore under MGNREGS.

The union minister assured that his ministry would endeavour to resolve all the issues.

He said that the 4,035 left-out unconnected habitations in the Core Network will be sanctioned at the earliest under the PMGSY after receiving the population figures of each habitation based on the 2001 Census from the state.

He said that approval for repair of 3,000 km of roads badly affected by Phailin will come within a week.

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