Will PM Modi Continue To Deprive Odisha Of Its Fair Share? Asks Congress Leader Jairam Ramesh As BJP Govt Takes Oath

Bhubaneswar: As the new BJP government in Odisha took oath on Wednesday, veteran Congress leader Jairam Ramesh lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and sought to know whether he will continue to deprive the state of its fair share in Central funds.

In a post on X, Ramesh said, “Some questions that the एक तिहाई Pradhan Mantri should answer as he attends the swearing in ceremony of the new Chief Minister of Odisha and his colleagues.”

Alleging that the previous government of the PM had steadily reduced Odisha’s Central funding in recent years, he said CAG reports show that Central transfers as percentage of Revenue Receipts have been consistently decreasing from 57 per cent in 2017-18 to 38 per cent in 2021-22.

Similarly, the CAG noted that the state’s share of Union taxes, as a percentage of revenue receipts of the state, has been continuously decreasing from 2018-19 to 2021-22. Grants under recommendation of the 15th Finance Commission have also decreased recently. “Will the एक तिहाई Pradhan Mantri continue to deprive Odisha of its fair share”? the Congress leader asked.

Ramesh further claimed that the Sitalapalli rail wagon factory has been in cold storage ever since it was sanctioned by the UPA government in 2013. The previous government undertook zero work on this project, and then finally dropped it in 2018. When the current Railway Minister, a Rajya Sabha Member from Odisha, took office, he promised to take the project up again.

In September 2021, an official of the East Coast Railway said that the project would be implemented on a PPP model. Till date, however, there has been no progress in this much-awaited project, he said.

Two other projects, the Gopalpur-Rayagada Railway line and the Rairakhole-Gopalpur Railway Line, have also suffered the same fate, Ramesh claimed and sought to know whether these projects will see the light of day.

Referring to the triple-train accident at Bahanaga which claimed around 293 lives and left over 1,000 injured, the Congress leader said while three railway officials were held responsible, one can hardly absolve the Central government of their role in this mishap. In the last ten years, the railways have struggled with high staff vacancies across the country.

In November 2022, the Railway Workers’ Union had even organised a sit-in demanding new recruitment so that staff would not be forced to work overtime and would receive the rest they required. The Railway Ministry itself admitted in a RTI that there were 2.74 lakh vacancies, including 1.7 lakh vacancies in the safety category. Even after such disasters, staff vacancies continue to remain rampant and the Railway Minister was re-appointed to his position, he said.

On BJP MP Sambit Patra’s statement during election campaign that “Lord Jagannath is a devotee of Modi,” Ramesh said it was deeply insulting to crores of Lord Jagannath’s devotees across the world. After the incident, Patra rendered a half-hearted apology, making the excuse that his statement was just a “slip of tongue,” he said.

Stating that Amarda airstrip in Odisha had the longest runway in Asia when it was built during World War II, Ramesh said plans to revive the airport were first floated in 2021 and then approved in 2022 but no development has occurred till date. The senior Congress leader sought to know whether this project will be revived.

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