Odisha govt not to participate in Prabhari officers meet

Bhubaneswar: Odisha government on Wednesday made it clear that it would not participate in the Prabhari Officers meet convened by the Niti Aayog in New Delhi on January 4 and 5.

"The idea of appointing this Prabhari Officers for development of backward districts creates confusion. Therefore, Odisha will not cooperate with the Niti Aayog in this regard," Odisha Finance Minister S B Behera told reporters.

Behera said this after Odisha government decided not to send any district collectors to NITI Aayog meeting. Earlier, the Niti Aayog had appointed eight joint and additional secretary rank officers of the Union government as the Prabhari Officers to coordinate with the collectors of backward districts in Odisha.

The Niti Aayog had also identified Kalahandi, Kandhamal, Rayagada, Gajapati, Malkangiri, Koraput, Balangir and Dhenkanal districts as backward areas of Odisha without consulting the state government, an official said.

The Niti Aayog has identified a total of 115 districts across the country as backward areas and appointed Prabhari Officers for them.

In a letter to Odisha chief secretary, the Niti Aayog had earlier requested to send the district magistrates of the selected backward districts to attend the meeting for "convergence, integration and focused attention to backward districts" on January 4.

Unilateral identification of the districts and labeling them as "most backward and backward in different manners" will have deep impact on the collective psyche of the people of the area, a senior official said while justifying the state government's decision not to cooperate with the Niti Aayog.

The state government also maintained that while the Niti Aayog has appointed additional secretary and joint secretary level rank officers to look after the development of the backward districts, Odisha government's additional chief secretary rank officers, who are in the level of secretary rank officers in the central government, have been coordinating with district collectors for development. -PTI 

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