March 30, 2015

naveen-patnaikOdisha Channel Bureau Bhubaneswar, Mar 30: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s ambitious ‘Aahar’ scheme to provide lunch at Rs 5 in five urban centres from April 1 is facing birth pangs.The State Government has not been able to arrange sponsors for the scheme despite serious efforts.While Central public sector enterprise Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL) has already refused to provide Rs.3 crore per annum to support the scheme, two other Central PSUs – National Aluminium Company (NALCO) and Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) – have not made it clear till Monday afternoon about extending financial support to Aahar.The State Government, however, is hell-bent on implementing the populist project despite little cooperation from the corporate houses and criticism from the opposition parties.With the scheme scheduled to be launched on Wednesday, the senior Government officials who are in-charge of implementation of the project are now working overtime to organise funds by approaching different companies and making alternative arrangements in case the two Central PSUs completely finally withdraw their assured support.As per the State Government’s plans, the scheme will be implemented in the cities of Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Berhampur, Sambalpur and Rourkela from Wednesday.A total of 25,000 persons will be provided lunch (rice and Dalma) at five rupees in at the Aahar outlets to be opened at various crowded places in the five cities.While MCL was first approached to provide Rs.3 crore per annum for the Aahar project, Tata Steel was asked to pay a similar amount for implementation of the scheme in Berhampur, NALCO in Bhubaneswar, SAIL in Rourkela, Odisha Mining Corporation in Cuttack.

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