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By Charudutta Panigrahi

I hail from Odisha and I love my state. Almost at the cost of sounding jingoistic I realize the value of my state, my people, their soft skills, their devotedness, their simplicity and above all their innocence. My dreams for my state make an unending list but I would like to list a few ‘restless’ ones with 2020 milestones.

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Governance through ICTs:

We have been talking and deliberating about better governance through ICTs since about 15 years. But now the time has come to adopt Integrated IT application across all departments of the government. There is a need for the various IT applications adopted by different Departments to be brought into interactive modes with each other. All the applications should be oriented towards delivery of services within the framework of good governance. A common IT Procurement Procedure needs to be prepared to facilitate an integrated IT application in all the Departments and agencies of the Government. This step would help governance percolate to the last mile and enable continuous upgradation, intellectual property rights, data recovery in case of disasters and the like.

Data & More data:

There are numerous benefits that can be derived by crunching the huge data sets of which some are available and many are not. If we want to attract more investments to Odisha, we need to ramp up Big Data awareness levels. Big Data is still at a nascent stage in Odisha, with most sectors still trying to create/generate the data. The various sectors in Odisha lack in quality data. This is across the departments.

By 2020, I would expect the data of the various departments to be up in the respective web sites or in a common platform, along with analytics with the help of the mushrooming technology and management colleges institutions in Bhubaneswar and other parts of Odisha. Besides churning out batches and batches of engineers and managers, their contribution to the state has to be sustained and a few notches higher. India’s digital universe is expected to grow by 50 percent every year through 2020, with 25-fold growth in useful information and we need to jump into the bandwagon.

Youth Employment:

By 2020, Odisha has to impart employment linked skill development training to 11 lakh youths. The scheme will be implemented through Mukhyamantri Nijukti Srusti Yojana. These 11 lakh men and women would be both from the rural and urban areas. Priority should be given to men and women from rural areas. The Chief Minister would review the scheme every two months and Chief Secretary would review progress of the scheme every month. Besides, there should be rejuvenated actions to impart skills in the traditional methods of handicrafts, stone/wood carvings. We need innovative approaches in creating substantial employment opportunities for the youths because the traditional vocations would reach saturation soon. This is the national trend.

Livelihood through Agriculture:

The total value of the produces and services generated in the farm sector (including dairy sector) in Odisha in 2014-15 is lagging severely behind Industry and services sector. A growth of 2% vis a vis about 9% in industry and services. Over 10 million people depend on agriculture for livelihood against 6mn on industries and services sector in Odisha. I have seen it myself during my field visits the erosion in farmers’ net worth. Though the production is high, yet the value realization is low. This is a trap for the farmers. According to the Commission for Agriculture Cost and

Prices (CACP), paddy farmers in Odisha sold their produce at minimum support price, which was more than half of the actual cost.

Power:

Since 2000, the State’s total consumption of power has increased by a whopping 115 %. The per

capita electricity consumption in India is 734kwh and the state consumes less than the national average.

By 2020 the poor and backward districts having large ST and SC population such as Malkangiri, Nabarangapur, Koraput, Boudh, Rayagada, Kandhamal, Kalahandi, Ganjam and Gajapati need to be fully electrified. Access to electricity for all is a powerful enabler for poverty reduction which will change the quality of life.

PPP Projects:

In the foreseeable future there would be a significant scale up in focus on health network, solid waste management, rice storage projects, solar projects under PPP mode. It is not only about the road sector but also in niche, location specific and demography specific projects which need boost in terms of funding, development and operations. Berhampur solid waste management, Bhubaneswar street lighting, Bhubaneswar affordable housing, Bhubaneswar and Cuttack roof-top solar programme rice storage projects, Puri solid waste management project and Bhubaneswar convention center projects are some of the examples of PPP initiatives which have been launched. But they need to be closely monitored and the milestones put up in public domain for common knowledge.

By 2020, it would be my dream to see the Bhubaneswar Health Network project up and running in full steam, which means the complete development of healthcare network in all three sectors – primary, secondary & tertiary. The development of a 300-bed green field multi tertiary health care hospital in Mauza Gadakana and the addition of a total of 500 hospitals beds in Kapilaprasad ( 100 beds), Bramheswarpatana ( 30 beds), Rasulgarh (30 beds), Gadakana (30 beds) and Bharatpur (10 beds) with a total investment of Rs.188 Cr should change the ratios dramatically – bed-patient/doctor –patient and morbidity.

Tourism:

Recently there has been a renewed support accorded to the tourism sector in Odisha. The

central government has provided a financial package of Rs 140 cr. This includes investments earmarked for Nabakalebar celebrations, rejuvenation of Raghurajpur Crafts Village, upgradation of tourist facilities at Konark and Light and sound shows, long overdue, at Konark, Puri, Dhauligiri and Khandagiri.

By 2020, I would hope the complete development of the much coveted Buddhist circuit, the comprehensive development of cruise tourism to increase the footfalls of tourist by at least 65%. All we need is more International air connectivity between North-eastern states, including Odisha and South Asia as well as South-East Asian countries.

Unlike the rest of India, Odisha has solid history of maritime trade with countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Kampuchea and Vietnam etc. So the frequency of international air services will raise inflow of foreign and domestic tourists to Odisha. Tourist inflow to Odisha has been positive in 2013-14 at about 67000, rising from about 42000 in 2008-09, which is an increase of 20% average per year.

Considering Odisha’s natural bounty this is not a great achievement at all. But gradually, tourism activities are being diversified to newer areas like Medical Tourism, Eco-tourism, Beach Tourism, Rural Tourism, Tribal Tourism, Buddhist Tourism & Spiritual Tourism.

We need to go with the world.

I bow to my State on this great Odisha Day or Utkal Divas.