The UNDP, in its report, lauded the ADP, launched in 2018, as ‘a very successful model of local area development that ‘should serve as a best practice for several other countries where regional disparities in development status persist for many reasons’.
In the Best Practices category, it appreciated GoalMart, an e-commerce portal launched by Assam’s Goalpara district administration ‘to promote rural, ethnic and agrarian products of the district in the national and global markets.’ Both Goalpara and UP’s Chandauli have successfully experimented in the cultivation of black rice, which is now being exported to Australia and New Zealand. Among the ‘Champions of Change’ are Simdega (Jharkhand), Chandauli (Uttar Pradesh), Sonbhadra (Uttar Pradesh) and Rajgarh (Madhya Pradesh).
The only consolation for Odisha is Malkangiri that figures in the Basic Infrastructure category for how it coped with the COVID-19 situation last year, due to better healthcare infrastructure introduced through ADP. It quotes a district official as saying they used their new infrastructure facilities (both in healthcare and otherwise) to serve as institutional quarantine centres for the migrants. Malkangiri also finds a single sentence mention about its improved roadways and infrastructure projects.
The five Best Practices include Health and Nutrition, Education, Agriculture & Water Resources, Financial Inclusion & Skill Development and Basic Infrastructure.
Notably, two districts of Odisha -Nabarangpur and Kandhamal – had figured among the top five most-improved aspirational districts in NITI Aayog’s Delta Ranking for July 2020. While Nabarangpur topped the list, Kandhamal ranked fifth for having adopted sustainable agriculture practices and efficiently managing water resources. According to the ranking of the districts based on the change in net resilience from March 2018 to March 2020, Nabarangpur is now at number 13 and Kandhamal at 58.
Similarly, in February this year, Gajapati topped in the ranking of aspirational districts while Koraput was ranked fifth. In the ranking of the districts based on the change in net resilience from March 2018 to March 2020, Gajapati has dropped to 46 while Koraput is at 17.
In March 2021, Dhenkanal occupied the third spot in the delta ranking of aspirational districts. The district was ranked in the health and nutrition sector for January 2021. As per data, Dhenkanal scored 77 out of 100 in the health and nutrition sector in January 2021. It ranked 20th in education while in the agricultural and water resources sector, the ranking was 22. It is at 32 in the change in net resilience ranking list for three years.
It may be mentioned here that only recently, the Odisha government approved the four-laning of the 174.5 km Biju Expressway through Kalahandi and Nuapada in a major boost to connectivity and trade and industrial activity in two of the 10 aspirational districts that have remained economically backward.
Ten Aspirational Districts of Odisha
Here is the ranking of the districts based on the change in net resilience from March 2018 to March 2020.