Naveen Patnaik recalls father Biju Patnaik’s words during inauguration of projects in Kalahandi

Published : January 15, 2021 15:21 IST

(in picture) Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik [Photo by special arrangement]

Inaugurating an irrigation project to benefit over three lakh farmers across 25,275 hectares in Kalahandi district, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said January 14 that Kalahandi was no longer a laboratory of poverty but a rice bowl and a model of development. This was Patnaik’s first public programme since COVID-19-related restrictions were imposed in March last year.

During his one-day visit to the district in western Odisha, Patnaik inaugurated 57 projects, including the Rs.896.71 crore Upper Indravati Left Irrigation Canal, and laid the foundation stones for 52 projects worth Rs.2,045 crore.

“Kalahandi alone supplies as much rice as the combined quantity of 10 States to the central treasury. All this has been possible because of the strong will of the farmers of Kalahandi and the strong will of the people,” Patnaik said, and added that Rs.1200 crore has been disbursed directly to the bank accounts of the district’s farmers during the ongoing paddy procurement season.

Irrigation facilities have tripled in the district, which has become the best performer in health and nutrition, and fish farming, in the country, according to Patnaik. “Today, the [infant and maternal mortality] rates have dropped due to the special programmes of the State government, and we have been able to save the lives of a large number of children and mothers,” he said.

The Chief Minister announced that a museum and a garden, showcasing the district’s transformation, will be built in honour of the river Indravati, to which he gave credit for Kalahandi’s development.

Recalling an incident when some children threw stones at Biju Babu (his father and Odisha Chief Minister in the 1990s) during his visit to Bhawanipatna, Patnaik said his father’s reply is what has guided him towards development of the district since he took charge as Chief Minister. Biju Babu had said, “Nothing to be worried. The people of Kalahandi love me very much. I also love Kalahandi very much. I will work 10 times more for Kalahandi than the number of drops of my drops that have fallen on Kalahandi’s soil.”