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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Panchayati Raj focus in Odisha’s Rs 19k-cr supplementary budget

The budget allocates Rs 3,624 crore for Panchayati Raj and drinking water, Rs 2,310 crore for health and family welfare and Rs 2,413 for energy.

Written by Aishwarya Mohanty | Bhubaneshwar |
December 1, 2021 9:37:06 pm
Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik. (File)

Ahead of panchayat and civic body elections, the Odisha government Wednesday presented a supplementary budget of Rs 19,833 crore which focused on Panchayati Raj, education and health.

Nearly Rs 7,000 crore higher than last year’s supplementary budget, this year’s document was tabled by Odisha Finance Minister Niranjan Pujari on the first day of the Assembly’s Winter Session amid protests and opposition by the BJP and the Congress.

The budget also lays emphasis on drinking water and energy. “This year’s supplementary budget, which is an exercise of reprioritisation of the allocations made in the annual budget this year, has specifically stressed on the health and education sectors along with energy and infrastructural development in rural areas. Disaster management has also been a prime area of focus for us this year,” Pujari said.

The budget allocates Rs 3,624 crore for Panchayati Raj and drinking water, Rs 2,310 crore for health and family welfare, Rs 2,413 for energy, and Rs 1,605 for schools and mass education.

The Assembly session was adjourned after both the Congress and BJP waved black towels and raised slogans seeking to stop state Home Minister Dibya Shankar Mishra from entering the House.

Mishra remained absent from proceedings on Wednesday. He was unavailable for comment.

The Opposition has been demanding his ouster from the ministerial post over his alleged links with the main accused in a teacher’s killing.

Earlier in the day, BJP MLAs had approached the Speaker and urged him to prohibit Mishra from entering the House. The Congress, meanwhile, blocked the Assembly gates, holding placards seeking justice for the teacher, Mamita Meher.

“We are opposed to MoS Home’s entry into the august House. The Chief Minister (Naveen Patnaik) has so far been silent over the issue. The Assembly is a sacred place and we will not allow the minister to enter the premise of this holy place. We first need definitive answers from the ruling party and the minister’s removal from the council of ministers,” said senior Congress leader Tara Prasad Bahinipati.

The agitating Congress MLAs later participated in the House proceedings.

BJP accused Chief Minister Patnaik of shielding Mishra and sought a CBI probe into the matter. “The ongoing investigation into the case by a former district judge is a planned conspiracy to protect the Minister. We reiterate our demand for a CBI probe,” said BJP chief whip Mohan Majhi.

The Orissa High Court had Tuesday nominated ABS Naidu, a former district judge, to monitor the investigation into the Mamita Meher case. On November 26, the Odisha government had requested the court to nominate a sitting or retired High Court judge, or a district and sessions judge, to maintain transparency while monitoring the investigation.

The Winter Session, being held with strict adherence to Covid-19 protocol. will continue till December 31. The session will have 26 working days, including five private members’ days.

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