`Special category status for Bihar after criteria change`
Patna: Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram Saturday said that Bihar will be accorded special category status after the change of criteria.
"I hope that new criteria will determine status of backward states. Bihar will certainly qualify for special category status under new criteria for it," said Chidambaram.
"The central government is reviewing the new criteria for special category status to backward states like Bihar," he told media persons here, adding a sub-committee has been set up to study it and its report expected soon.
According to state government officials, Bihar does not meet the existing criteria to be granted special category status.
Nitish Kumar, who has been long demanding special category status, had welcomed Chidambaram`s February statement of the need for a re-look into demand for such status to Bihar and other backward states.
In March, Nitish Kumar held a rally at Delhi`s Ramlila ground to put pressure on the central government for granting a special category status to Bihar.
Chidambaram, who arrived here Saturday morning, later left for Rajgir in Nalanda district, about 100 km from here, along with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to visit the site of the upcoming Nalanda university.
The finance minister said that the central government would provide all possible financial help to the upcoming Nalanda University. “We expect that more than Rs 2,100 crore would be required in the next 10 years. The government of India will provide funding for it,” Chidambaram told reporters, adding that the ruins of the ancient Nalanda University, ransacked in the 11th century, would be included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
The new Nalanda University will be fully residential, like the ancient one. It is set to begin academic activities from 2013-14, offering courses in science, philosophy and spiritualism along with social sciences.
Chidambaram, who also attended a meeting of the state level bankers` committee at Rajgir, said that banks would made more active to increase credit deposit ratio and increased credit flow in agriculture and priority sector, said a state government official present at the meeting.
He also assured Nitish Kumar that he will direct public sector banks to increase their branches from panchayat to district headquarters.
"Chidambaram promised Nitish Kumar to look into demands of the state government to open bank`s branches in rural areas and to provide more education loan to students," the official said.
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