After Mahanadi Coalfield Ltd (MCL), two other central PSUs pulled out of Odisha Government’s much ambitious ‘Aahar’ scheme, which seeks to provide Rice and Dalma at Rs 5 to 4,000 people each in five major cities – Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Rourkela, Sambalpur and Berhampur.
The ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) had held massive demonstration against the MCL for pulling out of ‘Aahar’ scheme. However, the latest decision by NALCO and RSP put them on the back foot. They now allege a conspiracy by some state BJP leaders and accused them of using pressure tactics on central PSUs operating from Odisha.
Earlier, the Naveen Patnaik government had unilaterally asked the PSUs to provide Rs 3 crore each from their CSR fund for the successful implementation of ‘Aahar’ scheme. There were no prior consultation with the concerned authorities in this regard.
Despite the pullout of three central PSUs, the Odisha Government will go ahead with the scheme from April 1, 2015. The Odisha Hydro Power Corporation Ltd. (OHPC) will sponsor the scheme in Rourkela, while the Industrial Development Corporation Odisha (IDCO) will manage it in Sambalpur. In Berhampur, Tata will sponsor the scheme. The Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) will provide funds for the scheme in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack.
The government is looking for other options to make the ‘Aahar’ scheme a huge success and gain maximum mileage. As per the government estimates, Rs 20 will be spent on each meal. While people will pay Rs 5, the remaining among (Rs 15) will be borne out by the industries and corporate houses.