Changing special status criteria for Bihar not possible: Montek



Patna: It will not be possible for the Centre to tweak the criteria for special state status so as to only benefit Bihar, which has been pitching strongly for it, the Plan panel said on Monday.

"It will not be possible (for the central government) to revisit the criteria for special status only in the context of Bihar...," Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia told reporters here.

"At the same time, the existing criteria for special status can be reviewed only by National Development Council which has set the norms," he added.

The Centre has informed the Bihar government of its stand and it was communicated to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in Delhi recently, Ahluwalia said.

He said he had advised Kumar that it would serve Bihar better if it sought special package for development instead.

"The point is that Bihar needs financial resources for development and the Centre is open to the idea of extending special package to the state.

"Bihar needs more resources to fund development. That can be done by the Centre through a special package," he said, adding that the Centre was committed to give special treatment to the state.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has been persistently demanding special status for the state and his party had flayed the Centre for its rejection by the inter-ministerial group.

Kumar had also announced holding of a rally in Delhi on March 17 to force the Centre to concede the demand.

On inflation, Ahluwalia said the rate of rise in the prices of essential commodities is abating. "Price rise remains a problem... But it's coming under control."

Inflation was presently high but measures are being taken to bring it under control, he said.

The Plan panel official, who is here to attend the meeting of Nalanda University monitoring committee tomorrow, expressed satisfaction over the progress in the work at the institute.

He said Vice-Chancellor Gopa Sabharwal has assured that admission of students will start from the next academic year.

On the funding for the international university, he said funds are not a problem. Foreign countries, however, were welcome to make financial contributions.

PTI