Centre weakening federal structure, allege BJP CMs

Accusing the UPA government of "weakening" the federal structure, chief ministers of BJP-run states on Friday said it was trying to "centralise" the powers and raise obstacles in the states` development schemes.

New Delhi: Accusing the UPA government of "weakening" the federal structure, chief ministers of BJP-run states on Friday said it was trying to "centralise" the powers and
raise obstacles in the states` development schemes.

Participating in the India Today`s `State of the States` conclave here, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi took on the Centre over several issues including the loss the states incurred due to the Sixth pay commission and alleged cold-shouldering by the Central government when it came to giving funds for rural road projects.

"Due to government of India`s attitude, the financial condition of states does not take the desired shape. An example is the Sixth pay commission announced by government.
The notion is that the Centre shells out money to give to its employees but the reality is that it earns money through Income Tax," Modi said.

He said when the Centre raised the salary of its employees the states had to follow suit. States have 25 percent of Central government employees and when the salary is
hiked then Income Tax collected goes to the Centre and not the state, Modi said.

"This revenue is more than what the Centre gives in the form of salaries under the Sixth pay commission. My suggestion is that when the Centre announces such pay hikes then the IT earned from the state employees should be returned to the states," Modi said.

Criticising the government, he said "If looked into carefully, the federal structure is in grave danger".

Citing another example of "discrimination" that his dispensation allegedly faced from the Centre, Modi said his state bore the brunt for performance.

"Gujarat`s rural roads are fantastic. But we are not getting funds from the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. Why? The Centre says you have already laid the roads. So, we are
being punished for good performance?", he said.

Listing the success achieved under his leadership, Modi said while the national agriculture growth is 2 percent (against a target of 4 percent), Gujarat achieved 12.8 percent growth consistently in the last five years. "Till about nine years back the income from agriculture was about Rs 9,000 crore and now it is crossed 50,000 crore," he added.

Modi said the state government had divided the farming department into three parts -- animal husbandry, regular agriculture structure and tree plantation. "No breed of animal
in the country has got national recognition. The Banni buffalo in past six years has got recognition. It is so valuable now that you can sell one buffalo and buy two Nano cars."

Toeing the same line as of Modi, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal `Nishank` rued that the UPA government had cut short the time period of the industrial
package given to it by former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

"Vajpayeeji had announced that we would get an industrial package till 2013. But, when the UPA government came to power, instead of extending the time frame of the package, it said it would be applicable only till 2010", the chief minister of the Himalayan state said.

He added that the state government would have got investments to the tune of Rs 56,000 crore if this extension would have been granted and "we told this to Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh time and again"

Nishank also accused the Centre of putting spokes in several state government schemes in the name of environment clearance and said, "it is as if the whole world`s environment
laws are applicable only to Uttarakhand... due to which I cannot build roads, bridge or dams".

Flaying the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Nishank said, "MoEF is concentrated on Uttrakhand, whereas similar issues were there in Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and other states.”

He said all hydel projects on river Ganga were given to the Centre as it was a national asset "but, they are not even giving us 200 mw of power generated through these projects".

Speaking on similar lines, Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh too did not mince words and said "it appears that the Centre is bringing down growing states so that there is parity
among all states instead of focusing on states that are down on the growth ladder."

He charged the Centre with making concerted efforts to weaken the federal structure and accused "it of trying to centralise all the powers with it."

Dhumal added that in the 12th finance commission, on an average other states got 125 percent increase in funds, "whereas, Himachal Pradesh has got only 50 percent, which is
the lowest in the country."

He was also disappointed that whenever states take any project to the Centre seeking funds, "it is declared as a Central scheme but then its implementation is left to the
states. This burdens the states".