The Odisha government has approved a proposal to launch a scheme with an estimated cost of over Rs 3,000 crore to ensure sustainable, affordable and safe transportation of passengers and commodities across the state, a minister said.
The roll-out of the Location Accessible Multi-modal Initiative was among 19 proposals, which were given go ahead at a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday.
Under the new scheme, the government will be able to ensure a seamless public transport network across Odisha from the gram panchayat level to the state capital to provide reliable and affordable services, state Education Minister Atanu S Nayak said.
Within the framework of the scheme, women's empowerment stands as the top priority. Due to safe transport space, women would be encouraged to participate actively in the workforce. Mission Shakti Self Help Groups (SHGs) will be engaged in various operation and maintenance-related activities within the blocks, the minister said.
It would also facilitate efficient means of transport of agricultural commodities from their production sites to markets, he said.
The scheme would also encompass timely transportation of various agricultural and perishable products from producers to nearby marketplaces, mandis and commercial hubs.
Road infrastructure has been enhanced but public transportation is yet to take off, the minister said, adding that under the scheme, planning for a bus network has been undertaken hierarchically.
"The project cost is estimated to be approximately Rs 3,178 crore in the first three years of the bus operation from 2023-24. The bus operation under the scheme has been planned to connect all the GPs, block and district headquarters, major cities and economic hubs across the state," he said.
The public transport scheme would be implemented in a phased manner, the minister said, adding that around 1000 buses would be deployed.
The tenure of the scheme would be for 10 years, extendable by two more years.
The cabinet also approved separate proposals for the upgradation of two institutes into universities. Bhubaneswar-based Silicon Institute of Technology and the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) in Berhampur will be upgraded into universities.
The council of ministers also green-lighted the Food and Procurement Policy for kharif marketing season of 2023-24, through which the government will procure 79 lakh metric tonnes of paddy.
The kharif paddy will be procured from November to March this fiscal while the rabi procurement will start from May to June 2024.
The farmers would be given proper minimum support price (MSP), which is Rs 2,183 per quintal for the common variety of paddy and Rs 2,203 for grade-A variety, chief secretary P K Jena said.