Dreams are being sold but not delivered in Odisha, said Dharmendra Pradhan, Union minister for petroleum and natural gas, while speaking on issues confronting the state at an event organised last week in Bhubaneswar by the Outlook group. In a conversation with Outlook editor Ruben Banerjee at the ‘OutlookSpeakOut: ReImagining Odisha’ summit, the Union minister regretted the slow pace of development in the state despite a media blitzkrieg that sought to portray a contrary image. “Grandiose ideas are being marketed, but implementation is zero,” Pradhan said.
A section of the audience at the panel discussion on ‘Vision 2015’
Looking back at his five years as Union minister from a state that is still largely considered to be underdeveloped and impoverished by the outside world, Pradhan said one of his high points so far has been to carry out Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promise to deliver gas cylinders to millions of women across the country under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana. “The number of households using clean fuel rose from 13 crore to 26 crore since 2014,” Pradhan said, explaining that the initiative has saved the lives of tens of thousands of women.
Asked if he had any regrets during his tenure as minister, Pradhan, also Union minister for skill development and entrepreneurship, said a lot remains to be done on further skilling and re-skilling the 48 crore people already employed, and skilling the more than 2.4 crore youth joining the job market every year on attaining the age of 15. He said the central government has done its best, but not everything has been achieved yet due to time constraints. “We certainly have done a lot, but I would have loved to do a lot more in the limited time,” he said. “We have a road map in place and everything will certainly get done.”
Speaking at the event earlier, Pradhan had said: “Odias possess three essential characteristics—high skills, extreme courage and intelligence. Today, Odia people lead the textile industry of Surat and Tirupur because of their highly skilled craftsmanship, trustworthiness and hard work. The eastern region of India, especially Odisha, is endowed with rich natural resources, fertile land, water, mines, minerals and hardworking youths. In the coming days, the eastern region, especially Odisha, will become one of the most happening spots in the world.”