ODISHA will continue to focus on development in Nabarangpur, India’s poorest district, until the state government’s goals, primarily in the fields of education, heath and agriculture, are achieved. That was the consensus at a review meeting conducted recently and chaired by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to take stock of development work undertaken over the last year in the district.
The Odisha government had taken up development projects in Nabarangpur on a priority basis, including signing up with the railways to bring the first train track to the district, after The Indian Express launched an assignment last August 15, titled “District Zero”, to focus on poverty and transformation in the district that was at the bottom of the development barrel on several indicators. The assignment will continue into the 70th year of Independence.
Responding to a series of reports in this newspaper, Patnaik assigned three additional chief secretary-rank officers to focus on development work in four backward districts, including Nabarangpur. Development commissioner and additional chief secretary of finance R Balakrishnan was tasked with the development of Nabarangpur.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Balakrishnan said: “The issue of Nabarangpur being a difficult development model has been flagged and we have stepped up efforts to address it. It’s an ongoing process and has to be like that. It’s not a one-year thing.”
According to government officials, the review meeting covered a wide range of issues including health, irrigation, agriculture, horticulture, fisheries, dairies, rural electrification, road-rail infrastructure, education, skill development and filling up of vacancies.
The meeting also decided to start “a dynamic web portal”, apart from the existing district website, to disseminate information on development strategies for the district. The portal is being developed by the state-owned Odisha Computer Application Centre and is likely to be launched later this month.
The meeting also listed and discussed achievements and unfulfilled goals related to the district. The government’s assessment of what has changed, and what has not:
19 new doctors, 81still short
The number of doctors has increased from 51 to 80, with 19 new appointments — each of the 11 Community Health Centres in the district has at least four doctors now. Doctors from these Community Health Centres will be asked to move to Primary Health Centres for OPD consultation. However, 81 posts of doctors are still to be filled up and a new incentive-based “vulnerability index” for doctors to get more professional is yet to be finalised. The district collector has now been vested with a Rs 1 crore corpus fund to get doctors from nearby cities on better salaries. A five-bed chemotherapy centre started two months ago with free drugs for patients. To address the problem of good quality accommodation for doctors, a service apartment complex over one acre of land is coming up near the Nabarangpur district headquarters hospital. A pilot scheme of 100 digital dispensaries is being planned to bridge the service delivery gap in the health sector.
53 habitations covered, 823 left
At least 53 habitations have been electrified over the last one year, taking the total coverage to 73 per cent. At least 823 more habitations will be electrified to ensure the goal of electricity to all by 2019. Of the 39 Primary Health Centres, 37 have been now electrified. One senior officer of distribution utility Southco is likely to be placed on permanent deployment in Nabarangpur to complete the electrification project.
19,690 hectares to be covered
A total 5,906 hectares of crop area has been irrigated over the last year through drilling of 2,540 borewells, revival of 28 minor irrigation projects, 47 lift irrigation projects, and construction of 48 check dams and 140 farm ponds. Besides, four mega lift irrigation projects have been initiated. However, 19,690 hectares still needs to be irrigated to reach the state benchmark of 35 per cent coverage.
E-auction, more maize markets
So far, over 55,000 hectares has been covered by maize plantation, an increase of over 16,000 hectares compared to last year. Over 68,000 hectares land has been covered by paddy. An e-auction to connect farmers and buyers was started with NCDEX in January this year, the first of its kind in the state. Maize mandis were established in Raighar, Umerkote and Jharigam blocks.
Vegetable co-op society starts
Two vegetable and fruit aggregation centres and three 10-tonne cooling chambers have been completed. A vegetable cooperative society has been established and two refrigerated vans have been bought.
5,110 tonnes milk procured
A fish seed hatchery unit in Muran at the Indravati river reservoir has been completed. Over 5,110 tonnes milk, the highest among all districts belonging to the under-developed Koraput-Bolangir-Kalahandi region, was procured from farmers in 2015-16.
First govt degree college
Over 91 per cent students, an all-time high, passed the Class X examinations last year, an increase of 9.27 per cent from the previous year. The first government degree college in the district is nearing completion, and is expected to be fully functional from this academic session.
More ITI classes
At least 4,000 boys and girls have been trained in masonry, dress design, light motor vehicle training, mobile repair, plumbing and plastic engineering. More Industrial Training Institute (ITI) classes have been started in two special buildings in Raighar and Chandahandi blocks.
More officers at block level
Three new Block Development Officers, five new Block Education Officers, a Deputy Director of Agriculture, 13 new tehsildars, additional tehsildars and assistant collectors, and 22 village agricultural workers have been appointed.
ROAD/RAIL INFRASTRUCTURE First train on the way
Funds for a road connecting Maoist-affected blocks of Umerkote and Chandahandi approved. Around 700 km road to be maintained by works department. Acquisition of land started for Jeypore-Nabarangpur rail project that would bring the first railway line to the district.