NITI Aayog: Naveen Patnaik voices concern over 'arbitary cuts' in central schemes

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday expressed concern over "arbitrary cuts" being effected under certain central schemes which, he said, resulted in incomplete projects and time and cost overruns.

PTI| Updated: Feb 08, 2015, 19:53 PM IST

New Delhi: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday expressed concern over "arbitrary cuts" being effected under certain central schemes which, he said, resulted in incomplete projects and time and cost overruns.

Citing the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) while participating in the first NITI Aayog meeting, he said that non-availability of funds for irrigation, rural roads and railway projects was retarding the progress of various infrastructure projects in the state.

He brought to the attention of the Prime Minister that the railway route length and rail density in Odisha continued to remain well below the national average.

This, he said, called for enhanced provisions for all the ongoing railway projects for ensuring their completion in the next three years and sanction of new railway lines for profitable projects and uncovered areas.

Patnaik mentioned that both the Visakhapatnam-Chennai Industrial Corridor and Eastern India Amritsar-Kolkata Corridor have bypassed Odisha and expressed his hope that the central government would correct this oversight and extend Vishakhapatnam-Chennai Corridor till Balasore, at the earliest.

The Chief Minister expressed his disappointment with some provisions of the recent Ordinance on MMDR Act such as the provision of deemed extension under Section 8A which restricts the number of leases that can come up for auction during the next five years.

He suggested that no further extension be given to leases that have completed 50 years and sought that all such leases be settled afresh through auction in a transparent manner.

Highlighting the pollution load faced by the state on account of coal mining and washing of coal and extraction of other minerals, he demanded that a Green Tax be imposed to compensate the state for "negative externalities" caused by mining.

He said that Odisha faces natural disasters every alternate year with huge adverse impact on the resources of the state and demanded that this fact must be factored in by the new dispensation while deciding on the allocation of resources to the state.

Patnaik hoped that the meetings of the Governing Council of the Aayog and the consultations therein will strengthen cooperative federalism.

He, however, observed that the Council meetings must be preceded by official-level meetings for ensuring that the major concerns of the states are duly captured in the agenda for the meetings.

This will help the Council to take better informed decisions, he said, while assuring the Prime Minister that Odisha will actively partner in the implementation of programmes of national priority like Make in India, Skill India, Digital India, Housing for All and Smart Cities.

He emphasised that the central government must provide greater flexibility to the states to design and implement programmes suited to their specific needs within the broad development objectives set at the national level.

The Chief Minister said that Odisha accords top priority to providing pucca houses to all those with kutcha houses in the rural areas which would entail a huge cost of Rs 30,000 crore over the next five years and asked the central government to meet at least 75 per cent of the cost.

He also suggested that the bill introduced recently to amend the Constitution for facilitating introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST) needs suitable modification to introduce a permanent constitutional framework for automatic compensation to the states in case of revenue loss.