May 17, 2010 4:34:46 am
Unimpressed by the progress made under the well-known KBK assistance plan,where over Rs 1,600 crore has been spent over the last decade,a concerned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has asked the Planning Commission to immediately carry out a fresh time-bound re-evaluation of the programme with special focus on the state of poverty and hunger.
The Kalahandi,Bolangir and Koraput region of Orissa,which has over the years been divided into eight districts,including the Naxal-affected district of Malkangiri,had come in for sharp focus many years back for starvation deaths largely caused by extreme poverty.
The widely documented condition of people in the area became a source of major embarrassment for the country,which provoked the government to chart out a special assistance package for the KBK districts to be directly monitored by the Planning Commission.
Despite these efforts,the Suresh Tendulkar Committee has noted that Orissa has the highest poverty rate of 60 per cent among all the states. And within Orissa,people in these eight districts have clearly continued to remain under the poverty line. This,sources said,flies in the face of Planning Commission reports which have indicated improvements in social and health indicators.
The Prime Ministers Office now says that these indicators do not reflect the actual state of poverty in the area. It wants the Planning Commission to undertake a fresh study on the specific parameters for which the assistance package was drawn up that would give an idea of how the per capita income levels of those living in the area have changed.
On paper,according to the Planning Commission,most schemes seem to be doing well going by the utility of funds. In fact,the Rajiv Gandhi Vidyutikaran Yojna is the only programme that is said to be not performing that well,particularly in Malkangiri district.
But the issue raised by the PMO is that these schemes along with NREGA,PMGSY and NRHM are being implemented separately,which should not be confused with the KBK assistance programme that was directed specifically at lifting people from poverty and hunger in the region.
The Planning Commission is learnt to have started to get its act together as there is also a demand from the State to double allocation under KBK to Rs 500 crore per year. The PMO is of the view that it is first important to assess the impact this package is making on the ground. With the overall situation not showing improvement,sources said,the programme may have to even be revisited.
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