Naveen Patnaik raises Odisha development issues with PM Modi

Bhubaneswar, Oct 6 (IANS) Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik Monday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi and discussed with him issues concerning the socio-economic development of the state.

Patnaik informed Modi that Nabakalebar festival of Lord Jagannath is scheduled to be held in Puri in July 2015 and requires preparations on a war-footing, including creation of adequate infrastructure, Patnaik's office said in a statement.

The chief minister said this is a ritual followed for centuries at Puri's Jagannath temple where the deities leave their old form and assume new ones every 12-19 years.

Patnaik added that over five million pilgrims and tourists are expected to congregate in Puri during a three-month period, necessitating huge requirement of infrastructure.

He urged the prime minister for early release of special central assistance of Rs.1,397 crore to supplement the efforts of the state in organising the event, the statement said.

He also sought Modi's intervention for early completion of railway works for the festival, including doubling of Khurda-Puri line, Khurda junction bypass and modernisation of Bhubaneswar and Puri railway stations.

He said that Sambalpuri is the mother tongue of about 7.5 million people in 10 contiguous districts of western Odisha and Ho language is spoken by over a million tribals living on the borders of Odisha and Jharkhand. He requested Modi to include these two languages in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution.

Patnaik told Modi that Odisha suffers from annual floods, cyclones and drought, which cause devastation, perpetuating poverty and under-development.

Referring to Odisha's backwardness and the Raghuram Rajan Committee's recommendations, he reiterated the need for according special category status to the state for adequate flow of funds so it could come at par with the developed states.

Patnaik also apprised Modi about the adverse consequences of Andhra Pradesh's Polavaram project for states, including Odisha and Chhattisgarh, such as submergence, flooding, etc.

He said the existing Odisha BPL (below poverty line) list dates to 1997 but excludes a number of eligible people, and impressed upon the prime minister to allow the state to cover additional five lakh BPL beneficiaries under the Indira Gandhi National Pension Scheme.

The chief minister also suggested that the civil aviation ministry should commence international operations from Bhubaneswar, which was declared an international airport in October 2013, to boost international tourism and economic development of the region.

Patnaik requested Modi to release the compensation amount on account of reduction of Central Sales Tax from four percent to two percent, release of central assistance for Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.

The prime minister assured that all the issues raised by the chief minister would receive his personal attention and that the central government would extend the required support for accelerating the state's socio-economic development.

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