State seeks 280cr central grant for security-related expenditure in Red-hit areas

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Bhubaneswar: Chief secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi requested Union Cabinet Secretary Pradeep Kumar Sinha for release of the approved Rs 280-crore central grant under security-related expenditure during a review meeting on developmental issues in Maoist-affected districts of the state through video conferencing on Thursday.
According to official sources, issues relating to electrification of villages, establishment of solar parks, skill development, financial inclusion, railway projects, mobile services, rural development and security matters were discussed.
Padhi explained the need of 130-km Jeypore-Malkangiri railway line for a backward and large district like Malkangiri. “Last October, we had signed an MOU with the Ministry of Railways for rail connectivity between Jeypore and Malkangiri. The state government was to share 25 per cent of the construct cost and provide land for the project. In June, East Coast Railways instead of starting the project work asked for more financial assistance from Odisha. We asked them to stick to what they had earlier agreed in the MoU,” Padhi told mediapersons after the meeting at the secretariat here.
The chief secretary also highlighted the urgent need for opening bank branches in the unbanked GPs in these districts. “In the absence of any bank in about 85% GPs of Red-hit districts, it becomes very difficult to carry forward the schemes aimed at financial inclusion. In the last one year, only 15 bank branches have opened up which is insufficient to meet the demands,” he said.
Focusing on the need for data connectivity in these areas, Padhi urged the Ministry of Telecommunication to upgrade the existing towers to 3G level.
He also sought more funds under solar water pump and solar lantern schemes as these were very successful and popular among people in Maoist-affected districts, the sources added.

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