Union Tribal Minister Flays Odisha CM For Forming SDCs

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Bhubaneswar: Union minister Jual Oram alleged that Odisha Chief Minister Navin Patnaik has formed the Special Development Councils (SDCs) in nine tribal-dominated districts in the state to gain political mileage.

The SDCs will focus on preservation and promotion of tribal culture, heritage and identity in accordance with their socio-economic development, Patnaik had said while launching the SDCs here on March 9.

“The BJD had performed poorly in 117 blocks of 9 tribal-dominated districts covered under the Special Development Council in the last panchayat elections. Now, the ruling party is trying to gain political benefits through these councils,” Oram said in a statement.

He questioned the role of the SDCs when elected representatives from panchayat to Zilla Parishads are already present.

“Will the SDCs act bypassing the elected panchayati raj institutions?” he asked.

The Union minister also alleged that the Odisha government was not able to spend funds allocated by the Centre for tribal welfare programmes.

The Ministry of Tribal Affairs, during the last four financial years, had given Rs 573.21 crore as special central assistance under the Tribal Sub-Plans and Rs 531.25 crore under Article 275 (1) of the Constitution, Oram said.

The funds allocated under specific head have not been utilised properly, he said.

Oram also said the sincerity of the state government towards tribal welfare could be enumerated from the fact that 16 model schools sanctioned by the Centre since 2010-11 are yet to be established.

The Union minister also wanted to know from where the state government will source Rs 175.50 crore for SDCs as it has not made any budgetary provision for the SDCs.

Responding to Orams question, Odishas Minister for Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes Development Ramesh Majhi said the state government has enough resources for the development of tribals.

“We are not asking the Centre for any help. The BJP should not trivialise the state government’s initiative which has been dubbed as a historic move,” Majhi said.

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