Bhubaneswar, Aug 15: Ignoring a boycott call by Maoists, Independence Day was celebrated across Odisha amid tight security with the government announcing more than Rs 16,000 crore for panchayats in five years for speedy rural development.
"Pannchayats are being strengthened for speedy rural development. There is no dearth of funds for this and the government will provide more than Rs 16,000 crore to panchayats in five years," Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said in his address after hoisting the tricolour here.
Noting that benefits of various welfare schemes had percolated to all sections of society, Patnaik said the government seeks to provide employment to three lakh people in industry and manufacturing sectors by 2019.
Investment process has been simplified under the new industrial policy, he said, adding steps are being taken for creating around 70,000 government jobs as well. While the government accords top priority to safety and security of women, a scholarship council would be formed for assisting meritorious students, Patnaik said.
The chief minister, who took salute from an impressive parade at the majestic Mahatma Gandhi road here, said 5,70,000 concrete houses have been constructed under Biju Pucca Ghar Yojana as the government is converting all 'kuccha' houses into concrete ones.
Similarly, the government is also coming out with a policy for housing for all in urban areas. As the day was celebrated amid gaiety and camaraderie across the state, tight security arrangements had been made all over, mainly in Maoist-hit Malkangiri, Koraput, Rayagada, Kandhamal, Gajapati and Nuapada districts where the ultras had given a call for boycotting celebrations, police said.
In state capital Bhubaneswar, the parade venue at Mahatma Gandhi Marg had turned into a fortress with deployment of security personnel in strength. Suspected Maoists hoisted black flags in some pockets of Mathili and Chitrakonda in Malkangiri district, police said.