Naveen removes Odisha’s safety net, drains Contingency Fund for KALIA scheme

Bhubaneswar: Odisha which is reeling under a whooping Rs 91,943 crore debt burden has withdrawn a few pennies left in the Odisha Contingency Fund for implementing Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA) Scheme launched in December last year for farmers.

Now, question arises that if there is natural calamity or emergency where does Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik get the money to deal with the situation. There is nothing left for the people of Odisha to get if natural calamity strikes the State. Because the Chief Minister wants these funds for last minute freebies as he wants votes in the ensuing Assembly and Lok Sabha elections scheduled in April-May.

Since the State Government has not made any budgetary provision for the scheme, the State Finance Department on Tuesday granted an advance of Rs 734.66 crore from the Odisha Contingency Fund for implementing the scheme despite the fact Rs 10,180 has already been allocated for the scheme raising many eyebrows.

Patnaik has come up with the KALIA yojana, probably his populist scheme, thinking that it could be the biggest scheme. But without budgetary provision, launching such scheme could have been a disaster, observed economists.

As per prevailing rule Contingency Fund can only be touched when there is an emergency or natural calamity or any sort of urgency. If the State Government announces any populist schemes there is a perception that they know they have adequate funds with it. But the fact is that Naveen Patnaik has announced the KALIA yojana only to woo farmers ahead of elections.

KALIA initiative targets to cover 92 per cent of small and marginal cultivators and landless farmers. Financial assistance of Rs 25,000 for agricultural and livelihood activities apart, KALIA also assures interest-free crop loan up to Rs 50,000 and life insurance support to the farmers.

Notably, on January 15, Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Bolangir in Odisha slammed the Naveen Patnaik Government for not spending Rs 4,000 crore central funds given to the State in recent past. Modi had said that Odisha has received more than Rs 4,000 crore Central funds but the Government has spent only a little amount.

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