Odisha demands special package for backward dists

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik cried injustice and urged Prime Minister Manmmohan Singh to sanction a special package for the backward districts of the state at the earliest.

Bhubaneswar: Alleging neglect of Odisha by
the Centre amid bonanza to other states, Chief Minister Naveen
Patnaik on Thursday cried injustice and urged Prime Minister
Manmmohan Singh to sanction a special package for the backward
districts of the state at the earliest.

Patnaik conveyed the Orissa government`s feeling in a
letter to the Prime Minister.

The fresh move came barely 15 days after the the chief
minister wrote a strongly worded letter to the prime minister
on November 24 resenting the Centre`s refusal to grant special
category state status to Odisha.

Quoting media reports, Patnaik said: "We come to know
that the Union Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has
approved a special package of Rs 8,750 crore for five years
for the development of backward districts of West Bengal."

Odisha, on other hand, got only Rs 340 crore under the
Backward Region Grants Fund (BRGF) for 2011-12 for 19 backward
districts (About Rs 1700 crore over five years), he said.

This apart, Odisha`s proposal for continuation of the
special package for KBK (Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput) districts
in the 12th plan has not been considered so far, Patnaik said.
"Would it not seem to you, Sir, this is an injustice?"
Patnaik said in the letter to Prime Minister.

Stating that every part of India should get benefits
under the BRGF, Patnaik said "the disparity between Rs
8750 crore and Rs 1700 crore seems to be quite glaring."
Union Home minister P Chidambaram, who visited Odisha
last month, should have apprised the Prime Minister about the
situation here, he said.

In his November 24 letter, Patnaik had criticised
successive Central governments for denial of special category
state status to Odisha. The letter was sent after Union
minister of state for Planning Aswani Kumar in a written reply
informed Lok Sabha that Odisha was not considered for special
category state status.

"I am totally distressed over the development. This is
most unfortunate that the Centre denies special category state
status to Odisha which houses millions of poor people," the
Chief Minister had told reporters here.

Claiming that Odisha meets all criteria to get special
category status except an international boundary, he said this
was a "step-motherly attitude" of the Central government.

Odisha has been demanding since 1979 special category
status in the form of resolution passed in the state assembly.

The issue has been raised in different meetings of the
National Development Council and at the time of finalisation
of annual plan of the Planning Commission, Patnaik said.

"All these efforts appear to be futile as the Centre
has turned a deaf ear to this legitimate request of Odisha,"
he said alleging that the successive governments at the
Centre have ignored the state`s interest.

With high concentration of scheduled tribes and
castes, the state records adverse human development indicator
and high incidence of poverty, Patnaik said.

PTI

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