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Odisha economic survey: 7.94% GDSP growth; but is it a win for Naveen Patnaik govt?

Just a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a jibe at Odisha’s 'acute poverty and starvation', at an election rally in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh on 24 February, the Odisha economic survey report presented a 7.94 percent gross state domestic product (GDSP) growth, against a national average of 7.1 percent.

Modi had also expressed his happiness about BJP's improved situation in the state during the rally, after it gained 293 seats in the recently concluded panchayat polls. He said that the poor people of Odisha were fed up with the ruling government and wanted a change to remove the 'poor' tag attached to Odisha.

The survey report, presented in state Assembly by the finance minister, Pradip Kumar Amat, cited that the real per capita income had increased from Rs 47,632 in 2011-12 to Rs 61,678 in 2016-17. Over the same period, India's per capita income grew by 6.5 per cent, to Rs 81,805 from Rs 77,524.

File image of Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik. PTI

File image of Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik. PTI

The growth rate has been attributed to the industries and services sector, while agricultural contributions have seen a downslide; despite the fact that agriculture is still the major source of income for most rural people in Odisha.

"Agriculture, with a 20 percent share in GSDP, still remains a priority sector in terms of high employability, inclusiveness and sustainability. The GSDP of the mineral sector, being the investment hub for mine-based large industries, grew robustly by 17.15 percent in 2015-16,’’ the report stated.

Given the proactive steps taken by the government of Odisha – in inviting more stakeholders to drive the state’s economy in the last two years – the reports could reflect even more sustainable development over the next five years or so, provided the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) stay in power. BJD's position in the state could be under threat from BJP, following their strong showing in the panchayat polls.

While India recorded 15 percentage points (average annual decline of 2.14 percentage points) of poverty reduction, the survey report said that the rural urban status of poverty reduction in Odisha was far more impressive. Poverty reduced by 25.11 and 20.31 percentage points in rural and urban Odisha respectively, as against 16 and 12 percentage points for India.

About 82 lakh poor people moved above the poverty line in the last eight years in the state. "The poverty in Odisha has declined by 24.61 percentage points (average annual decline of 3.52 percentage points) from 57.20 percent in 2004-05 to 32.59 percent in 2011-12," the report stated.

However, the contributions of the manufacturing sector to the state's growth declined to 18.27 percent in 2016-17, from 19.19 percent in 2015-16. With iron, steel and non-ferrous metals contributing 72 percent to the manufacturing sector, the gross value stood at Rs 63,695 crore. The service sector contributed 43.53 percent to the GSDP. The sector is expected to grow 8.08 percent in 2016-17, the report said.

The state’s human development indicators, infant mortality rate (IMR) and under-five mortality rate (U5MR), have also improved remarkably.

“Our State has achieved a commendable decline in IMR over the last 16 years. We achieved the highest point decline in the country, 56 points since the year 2000... our State’s IMR is 40 per thousand live births, which is lower than the national average,” said Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik.

He added that Odisha had achieved a sharp increase in institutional deliveries, family planning and antenatal care of mothers. The state has also registered significant decline in under-five mortality rate, anaemia and malnourishment, he stated.

Though the survey report on the state’s growth trajectory has given the people of the state some reason to cheer,  it has also raised apprehensions about the veracity of the report as far as IMR and U5MR are concerned.

Given the fact that the figures come at a time when the Nagada (Jajpur district) malnutrition deaths (22 tribal children had succumbed in July 2016 ) due to consumption of mango kernels and the Japanese encephalitis (JE) deaths (122 unofficially, 37 officially) in the state, are still fresh in people's psyche, the report certainly looks like the government's attempt at damage control. Moreover, the vacant doctors and paramedic posts have not been filled in the state nor has the health infrastructure seen any improvement in remote areas.

Updated Date: Mar 04, 2017 16:40 PM

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