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Rich poverty
Orissa’s development confounds

The general notion is that economic prosperity and improvement in living standards of people go hand in hand – but the Indian state of Orissa seems to be a contrast to this. The state, enriched with a bounty of natural resources, remains a backward state when it comes to all the possible measures of standards of living.

Despite recession, investment plans of India Inc. in Indian states increased exponentially from Rs.13,80,099 crores in 2008 to Rs.15,94,203 crores in 2009. India’s leading states that attract the highest amount of investments are Gujarat, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh with their individual share being 15.4%, 12.6 and 8.1% of total investments attracted by Indian states, respectively. Orissa is a rare example of attracting investments exceeding Rs.6 lakh crores in mineral-based industries. Orissa also is host to 33% of India’s total iron reserves, 50% bauxite reserves, 95% nickel reserves, 98% chromite reserves and 24% coal reserves.

There were 49 MoUs that have been signed up with various steel promoters for setting up of plants in 2009, with total investments worth about Rs.2,00,846 crore. The estimated production capacity is about 74.66 million tonnes per annum of steel, according to the government sources. Reliance Energy announced setting up a 12,000 MW power plant with Rs.60,000 crores investment. Bhushan Steel and Strips also announced their plans of increasing their capacity of producing steel from 3 million tonnes to 9 million tonnes with an additional investment of Rs.15,000 crores, apart from Posco, Tata Steel, Jindal Steel and Power, Sterlite Iron and Steel Company, and Essar signing MoUs.

At the same time, while 85% in Orissa live in rural areas, 47% of them live below the poverty line. Overall, 42% people live below the poverty line. In absolute numbers, in 1992, there were 141 lakhs living below poverty line in Orissa; in 2005, this figure had reached 152 lakhs. The annual per capita income of state citizens was Rs.14.795 compared to the national average of Rs.37,490 in 2009. One would have expected citizens of Orissa to be amongst the richest in India. They’re the third most poorest in India.

By:- Akram Hoque

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