Nobel Winner Abhijit Banerjee’s J-PAL Project To Benefit Poor People In 2 Odisha Districts

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A pilot project of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) South Asia, co-founded by Nobel Laureates Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, is likely to kick off soon in Keonjhar and Sundargarh districts of Odisha.

Based on the concept of inclusive growth dividend (IGD) or universal basic income (UBI), it will guarantee income to poor people in these mineral-rich but poor districts. According to Odisha government officials, an amount of Rs 100 will be transferred every month to the bank accounts of each and every person in the targeted areas, the Hindustan Times reported.

J-PAL South Asia had signed an agreement with the state government last year to maximise the impact of state’s poverty alleviation programmes across sectors.

The project, with a budget of Rs 300 crore, will benefit poor people in about 400 gram panchayats in these districts and will run for two years.

In case of minor children who can’t have bank accounts, the money will be transferred to their mother’s account.

The pilot project covered Mayurbhanj district also, but can only be implemented in Keonjhar and Sundargarh districts as it can be financed from the District Mineral Fund available there.

“Once we get the project report, the DMF trust boards of the two districts would consider it and if found viable then it would be approved. We have suggested to them to include villages within 10 km area of the mining blocks in these districts,” Development Commissioner Suresh Mohapatra, who had a discussion with J-PAL officials last week, was quoted as saying.

As per a census conducted by Odisha’s Panchayati Raj department, about 65% of the population in Sundargarh district and 69% in Keonjhar were found to be below poverty line.

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