Iconic sites: Raw deal to Odisha in Union Budget

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New Delhi: Showing its step-motherly attitude towards Odisha, the Union government has once again ignored the culturally rich state while selecting archaeological sites that would be developed as iconic sites with on-site museums.

Presenting the Budget 2020-21 in the Parliament Saturday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that five archaeological sites would be developed as iconic sites with on-site museums. The Union government has selected Rakhigarhi in Haryana, Hastinapur in Uttar Pradesh, Shivsagar in Assam, Dholavira in Gujarat and Adichanallur in Tamil Nadu for the plan. The Union budget has also proposed setting up a tribal museum in Jharkhand.

Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MP Bhartruhari Mahtab said that archaeological sites which are more than 2,000 years old should have been included for the development as iconic sites. He said Odisha has archaeological sites like Barabati Fort in Cuttack and Sisupala Garh near Dhauli. The Union government should have included these sites in the list.

“Odisha needed a better deal from this budget. The first year of the Finance Commission has not been very encouraging. For specific development related to drinking water and also for expanding irrigation facility demanded more funding,” Mahtab said.

It’s not for the first time that the Centre has ignored the interest of the state. In the last budget also, the Union government had left out Odisha while selecting 17 tourism destinations for developing them as iconic sites.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, meanwhile, expressed dissatisfaction over the Union government’s decision of not including archaeological sites of Odisha in the list. He also expressed unhappiness for not proposing National Tribal Museum in the state.

“None of the Archaeological sites of Odisha has been included in the iconic sites to be developed. Also, Odisha deserves a National Tribal Museum,” Patnaik said.

Congress MP from Odisha Saptagiri Ulaka dubbed the Union government’s decision ‘very unfortunate’ and alleged that the Centre has been ignoring the interests of Odisha constantly.

“This is very unfortunate and Odisha has been ignored. This has been happening constantly. State’s BJD government is supporting BJP unconditionally and that’s the reason they (Union) are taking the state for granted and they are ignoring the state against the interests of people of Odisha,” Ulaka said.

Meanwhile, BJD MP Pinaki Mishra termed the budget as ‘very disappointing’. The BJD MP said that though the Minister had given a big speech, it was having less of facts. He further said that the budget indicates narrow vision. “This budget just shows big dreams. No incentives for agriculture sector. I’m personally disappointed by the budget,” Mishra said.

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