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Bihar shining, says economic survey

Patna, March 5 (IANS) It is official now. Bihar is changing fast, and shining with a high growth rate for the first time in the post-independence era, says the latest Bihar economic survey for 2009-10.

The survey vindicates Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s claims of development in the state – still one of India’s poorest and most economically backward.

According to the survey, Bihar’s economy registered an annual growth rate of 11.35 percent over a five-year period from 2004-05 to 2008-09. It was only 3.5 percent per year in the previous five years.

The survey, presented in the state assembly Thursday, also shows a rise in per capita income from Rs.10,415 per year in 2008 to Rs.13,959 in 2009. It was Rs.7,443 in 2004-05.

It points out that construction, communications and hotel and restaurants are three sectors which are witnessing the highest growth. The construction sector registered 35.8 percent growth rate followed by communication with 17.68 percent and trade, hotel and restaurants with 17.71 percent.

The construction boom has translated into mushrooming growth of apartments and tele density has risen from 5.34 percent in 2006 to 22.18 percent in 2009. Internet connections in rural Bihar are up to 4.99 lakh in 2009-10 compared to 0.43 lakh in 2008-09. Two districts – Muzaffarpur and Khagaria – have the highest number of broadband and dial up connections.

According to the survey, spread of road connectivity is an important achievement in Bihar. About 2,417 km roads were constructed in the state in 2008-09 compared to 415 km in 2005-06. Under the Pradhanmantri Gram Sadak Yojana, 323 km roads were constructed. About 1,913 km roads were also constructed under the Mukhyamantri Gram Sadak Yojana in 2009-10.

The changing face of Bihar also attracted 3.46 lakh tourists in 2008 compared to 61,000 in 2003, the survey said.

The state is on the move in the health sector, especially rural health. The infant mortality rate has come down to 56 per thousand in 2008-09 from 61 in 2004-05. The maternal mortality rate has declined from 371 to 312 over the last few years.

The total capital outlay on social sector has risen 10 times from Rs.137 crore in 2004-05 to Rs.1,455 crore in 2009-10.

In agriculture, the survey expects the total foodgrain production in the last kharif season to be 120.86 lakh tonnes despite the drought.

The Bihar State Investment Promotion Board (SIPB) has cleared 254 investment proposals worth Rs.1,033 crore in the past four years.

However, the survey reveals low growth in the industrial sector. Industrial growth has remained static, with the manufacturing sector’s contribution to the GSDP (Gross State Domestic Product) pegged at 4.69 percent. The number of agro-based industries still stands at 440, which is just 0.80 percent of the national average.

The survey also points out the serious regional disparities within the state and poor credit-deposit ratio, standing at 31 percent which is far below the national average.

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