Naveen Patnaik seeks special category status for Odisha

Citing the relative backwardness of Odisha and the Polavaram project, which in its present form would severly affect tribal population, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday stepped up the demand for special category status for his state.

New Delhi: Citing the relative backwardness of Odisha and the Polavaram project, which in its present form would severly affect tribal population, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday stepped up the demand for special category status for his state.

During a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi here, Patnaik also sought early release of special central assistance of Rs 1,397 crore for organising Nabakalebar festival of Lord Jagannath, commencement of international flight operations from Bhubaneswar, completion of ongoing railway projects and sanction of new projects to actualise rail corridor and port connectivity in the state.

The Prime Minister assured that all the issues raised by the Chief Minister would receive his personal attention and that the Union Government would extend the required support for accelerating the socio-economic development of the state, a press release by the state government said.

The Chief Minister also demanded release of compensation amount on account of reduction of central sales tax (CST) from four to two per cent and release of central assistance for Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) and other schemes like MNREGS and for an additional 5 lakh beneficiaries under Indira Gandhi National Pension Scheme.

Patnaik raised issues like Polavaram Project and its consequences for the backward tribal dominated district of Malkangiri, the release said.

Referring to the relative backwardness of Odisha and the recommendation by Raghuram Rajan Committee, he reiterated the need to accord special category status to Odisha for ensuring adequate flow of funds and enabling it to catch up with the other developed states of the country.

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 Nabakalebar, a significant event in eastern India.

This is a ritual followed for centuries at the Jagannath Temple where the deities leave their old form and assume new ones every 12-19 years. Over 5 million pilgrims and tourists are expected to congregate at Puri town during a three-month period necessitating huge setup of infrastructure.

Patnaik told the Prime Minister that Nabakalebar is scheduled to be held in July 2015 and requires preparations on war footing, including creation of adequate infrastructure.

The Chief Minister also raised the challenges of severe floods, cyclones and drought in the state.