Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has been working tirelessly for the all-round growth of Odisha. As a result, there has been a marked improvement in the lives of the people of the state, and a conducive atmosphere has been created for rapid industrialisation and generation of huge employment opportunities. In an exclusive interview to The Sunday Guardian, he talks about his vision to make Odisha the number one state in the country. Excerpts:
Q. This year marks the birth centenary of Odisha’s great visionary Biju Patnaik. How does your government plan to carry forward his dream and vision for Odisha in the coming years?
A. Biju Patnaik’s entire life was devoted to improve the socio-economic lot of the people of Odisha, and to fight for the Swabhiman of every Odia. Biju Babu’s monumental legacy is the guiding light for my government’s continuous endeavour to fulfill his vision of a peaceful and prosperous Odisha.
It has been the pledge of my government to work relentlessly for the cause of Odisha, and to ensure clean, transparent, pro-people and effective govermance for the state. Our efforts have resulted in massive poverty reduction and reduction of regional disparity, improvement in almost all human development indicators, and a financially sound state. We have made significant progress in sectors like agriculture, irrigation and infrastructure, while ensuring inclusive growth and social security for all. On the birth centenary year of the legendary Biju Babu, my government reaffirms its commitment towards making Odisha a frontline state of India. I thank the people of Odisha for their continued blessings and unconditional support in all the initiatives that my government undertakes for their well-being.
Q. What are the major milestones you think your government has achieved in the last two years?
A. Reduction of poverty cutting across different regions and segments of society has been the hallmark of our growth which is inclusive, holistic and accelerative. The pace of poverty reduction in the state has been the highest in the country compared to any other region.
Peaceful industrialisation along with enormous industrial growth, substantially enhancing the irrigation potential of the state through mega lift points and deep bore wells, converting one million thatched houses of rural Odisha into pucca houses, providing vital road connectivity, extending the scope of ongoing state schemes to the whole of Odisha in view of closure of important schemes by the Central government, socio-economic empowerment of more than seven million women of the state, providing opportunities to the youth through the promotion of IT driven growth, promoting healthcare and public health through enhanced efforts, paving the way for financial inclusion of the population in the tribal and inaccessible areas, providing inclusive educational opportunities to SC & ST children, and providing food security to the needy, are some of many milestones that my government has achieved during its current tenure.
In my dream of the 21st century for the state, I would have young men and women who put the interest of the state before them.
Q. What potential does the state of Odisha hold in terms of being an excellent destination for investments? What measures has your government taken for making the business environment conducive to investors?
A. The state economy has grown at an average annual rate of about 9% in real terms during 2000-2015, as against about 3% during the period 1951-2000. In its endeavour to make Odisha the most preferred investment destination globally, my government has taken a number of path breaking initiatives.
By diversifying its industrial base with value added sectors, creating an industrial land bank of one lakh acres, launching the new industrial policy with a slew of unique incentives by offering sector specific policies for ICT, food processing, MSME development, tourism sector and with specific focus to promote electronic manufacturing and by developing three large investment regions at Kalinganagar, Paradeep and Dhamra, Odisha has now become one of the most preferred investment destinations. The state is also developing a number of sector-specific industrial parks to encourage development of focus sectors. It is the only state in the country to have a strategic partnership with TiE Silicon Valley and with an exclusive start-up policy for the state, to provide impetus to the start-up ecosystem. The Odisha Industrial Development Plan 2025 identifying five focus sectors for investments in the state has been developed with an aim to create 10 lakh new jobs through investments worth Rs 2.5 lakh crore in the state. To complement all these, the investor-friendly policies and the ease of doing business framework have made us a competitive and attractive “Manufacturing Hub of the East.”
Q. What makes you the most loved and respected Chief Minister of the state for the past 16 years despite many odds?
A. I joined politics in 1997 after the sad demise of my father Biju Babu, for whom the people of Odisha have a lot of affection, love and respect. And they have showered the same love and affection on me and my party, and we have been in office for the last 16 years due to the blessings of the people of Odisha.
I am in public life and my life is dedicated to the cause of Odisha and its 4.5 crore people. I believe in transparency and probity in public life. Our pro-poor, pro-SC/ST, pro-women policies have been highly appreciated by our people. Odisha and the betterment of its people are in the forefront of all my endeavours; and it is reciprocated in their love, affection and respect.