Sounding the poll bugle in Odisha where state elections will coincide with the national polls next year, Modi alleged that inefficiency and corruption has kept the state backward despite assistance from the Centre and sought to know who is “feeding and patronising the demon of corruption”.
Modi was addressing a BJP rally in Khurda town near the state capital Bhubaneswar after launching a slew of projects for the state and releasing a stamp and a coin to commemorate Odisha’s 1817 Paika rebellion. “Demon of corruption in the form of chit fund scams and PC (percentage commission) culture has grown strong in Odisha,” he said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has declared Odisha as a priority state for the state as well as Lok Sabha elections. Naveen Patnaik of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has been at the helm of affairs since 2000 in the state and will be seeking a fifth term as CM next year.
In a stinging attack on the BJD government, Modi said, “The Centre has launched a slew of project and pumped in huge funds for Odisha’s development, but despite all these, the state is lagging behind.”
The Prime Minister said people are realising there is a wave for change to take the state to a new path of progress and development and the people here, including farmers and women, are raising their voice.
Modi inaugurated a new IIT-Bhubaneswar campus and launched projects worth over Rs 14,500 crore in Odisha, which he said would accelerate the state’s development and make the state an engine for transformation of the country into a ‘New India’.
Accusing the state government of inaction on the ‘Swachh Bharat’ (Clean India) campaign, Modi said the country has achieved 97 per cent ‘swachhata’ (cleanliness), but Odisha is lagging far behind other states in becoming ‘Open Defecation Free (ODF)’.
Claiming that children are suffering from malnutrition in the state, he said farmers are struggling due to lack of remunerative prices for their produce and in absence of proper irrigation facilities.
Modi alleged the state government has failed to provide safe drinking water to the people, while teachers are forced to agitate against denial of adequate salary due to the government’s apathy.
The PM also alleged the Odisha government’s refusal to join the ‘Ayushman Bharat’ scheme deprived people of the state of free healthcare benefits. “People of the state want to know as to why Odisha government refused to link with Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana which would have enabled them to get free medical treatment outside the state,” Modi said at the rally.
He said Odias would have availed free medical facilities up to Rs five lakh in major hospitals outside if the state had joined the scheme. Stating that around six lakh people have benefitted from the Centre’s flagship health care scheme, Modi said, “I regret that not a single Odia is among the beneficiaries.”
Asserting that the Centre is committed to strengthen healthcare services in Odisha, Modi said his government has taken steps for setting up five medical colleges in the state.
Modi, who earlier in the day dedicated a 100-bed revamped and upgraded ESI Hospital to the nation readied as a cost of Rs 73.51 crore, said the state government should also wake up to meet the people’s needs.
Affirming the Centre’s commitment to an all-round development of Odisha, Modi said a whopping Rs 1.5 crore is being invested in oil and petroleum sector in the state which would make it the country’s petro-hub.
While a plastic park and polypropylene project are coming up in Paradip near the Indian Oil refinery, a bio-fuel plant is being set up in Bargarh and a strategic oil reserve is being established in Chandikhole, he said.
The Prime Minister also laid foundation stones for two projects — Indian Oil’s pipeline from Paradip to Hyderabad at a projected cost of Rs 3,800 crore and GAIL’s gas pipeline from Angul to Bokaro in Jharkhand at a projected cost of Rs 3,437 crore under the Urja Ganga Yojana. Modi said people in 19 districts of the state would be able to get cheap piped cooking gas with spread of these pipeline projects.
Asserting that the Centre is taking all steps to strengthen connectivity and road networks in Odisha, Modi said Rs 4,361 crore is being spent for four National Highway projects of 263 kms to streamline traffic and check mishaps in the state.
Central funds for infrastructure projects in the state have been increased five times during the BJP-led NDA government, he said. New highways, rail lines and airports are coming up in the state due to Centre’s initiative, he said.
Noting that 35 lakh free LPG connections have been provided to the poor people in the state, Modi said 70 per cent of the state population use cooking gas now, as against only 20 per cent earlier, and aim is to reach all. He alleged the BJD government was neglecting farmers and pitched for a mandate for the BJP to take the state forward to a path of development.
Modi alleged the state government has failed to fulfil the 2014 election promise to provide irrigation facilities to additional 10 lakh hectare of land.