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Redefine criteria for Special Category Status: Naveen at NDC meeting  

Monday June 09, 2014

Odisha, Naveen Patnaik, National Development Council, India  
 
"Chief Minister of Odisha reiterated his demand to declare Odisha as a Special Category State citing that Odisha has high concentration of tribal and scheduled caste population; the state is one of the poorest major States and it has adverse socio-economic human development indicators with per capita income remaining two third of the national average."  
HNF Correspondent  
 

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, while speaking in the National Development Council (NDC) meeting chaired by Prime Minister of India, impressed upon the NDC that the direct cash transfer scheme adopted by the Central Government for targeting of subsidies needs a careful reconsideration in view of the present inadequacy of rural banking infrastructure and connectivity.

Naveen Patnaik suggested that the objective of food and nutrition security should, rather, be more effectively addressed at present by bringing improvements in the public distribution system and, in other cases, by improving the banking infrastructure first.

 

Seeking that the union government of India puts programmes for holistic development of children with a particular focus on girl child, gender equality and welfare of women in the 12th Plan, Chief Minister of Odisha stressed upon the need of Central Government support to the initiatives taken by the State to provide hostel facilities to 5 lakh girl children belonging to Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes.

Naveen Patnaik also suggested that the norm of supplementary nutrition under the Integrated Child Development Services Scheme should be revised upwards and subsidized LPG connections be provided for implementation of Mid Day Meal Programme and Supplementary Nutrition Programme, to enable cooking in an eco-friendly environment. In addition, he strongly urged the National Development Council to endorse a time-bound Plan for moving towards Universal Health Care and for developing a crash Plan for augmenting supply of doctors and health care professionals, for effective implementation of health care programmes in the country.

Naveen stated in the meeting that the inclusive growth strategy adopted by Odisha government during the 11th Plan has paid dividends and, as a result, Odisha achieved a real annual growth rate of 8.23 per cent during the 11th Plan period along with significant decline in poverty across all regions and among different social groups, infant mortality rate and maternal mortality ratio. On the State’s plan to continue its work as per inclusive growth strategy during the 12th Plan period, 2012-17, and envisage an average annual growth rate of 9 per cent, with agricultural growth rate of 4.5 per cent, Chief Minister of Odisha sought adequate support from the union government in regard to the proposed an outlay of Rs.1.24 lakh crore,. Naveen also emphasized upon the need of special efforts to improve the agricultural growth rate and productivity in Odisha, which requires substantial public and private investments in irrigation, watershed development and rural marketing infrastructure, long term affordable farm credit to farmers and appropriate institutional reforms.

For the welfare of the farmers, Chief Minister suggested in the NDC meeting that Government of India should make long term credit for agriculture and allied sectors available at a rate not exceeding 7 per cent and should also synchronize support price for farmers with rising fertilizer prices to make farming a profitable business activity. He further stressed that the 12th Five Year Plan should enhance the Central funding for Integrated Watershed Management Programme in rain-fed areas and expand the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme or other central funding to cover mega lift irrigation projects in the State.

Underlining the need for sustainable management of natural resources, Naveen sought adequate funding and flexibility in the use of CAMPA funds for achieving sustainable economic development. While bringing to the notice of the NDC that substantial funds under CAMPA have remained unutilized in Odisha because of the rigidities imposed on their use by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Naveen put forth his demand for flexibility in CAMPA guidelines to provide greater discretion to the State Government on use of CAMPA funds.

Keeping in view the issue of growing unemployment, Odisha’s Chief Minister added that the 12th Plan should lay sharp focus on providing employable skills to the unemployed youth and support establishment of critical training institutions including industrial training institutes, tool rooms and other training facilities. Naveen sought, in this regard, adequate resource support and industrial training institutes for all Blocks for the Employment Mission launched by the State for generating at least one million self employment and employment opportunities for the unemployed youth.

Apart from his demands for revision in the Mineral Policy to make the mineral rich states get more royalty and a better share of profits made out of mineral resources, Chief Minister of Odisha reiterated his demand to declare Odisha as a Special Category State citing that Odisha has high concentration of tribal and scheduled caste population; the state is one of the poorest major States and it has adverse socio-economic human development indicators with per capita income remaining two third of the national average. Naveen urged upon the Council to re-visit and re-define the criteria for according Special Category status to Odisha as the State satisfies all criteria of a Special Category State except having an international boundary.

Expressing his concern over the steadily falling share of normal Central Assistance to less developed States which, in the case of Odisha, has fallen from 34.61 per cent in 10th Plan to 24.90 per cent in 11th Plan, he suggested that the Central Government should devolve earmarked funds to the States for centrally sponsored schemes, to free the State’s Plan funds for implementing other crucial programmes as per local needs. Thanking the Planning Commission for enhancing Special Central Assistance for Koraput-Bolangir-Kalahandi region from Rs.130 crore to Rs.250 crore during 2012-13, Naveen requested the Council to extend the Special Plan (Revised Long Term Action Plan) for KBK Region for a period of another 10 years with enhanced funding.

Among other issues highlighted by Naveen Patnaik was the poor state of National Highways which needs greater attention and adequate funds from the union government.

 
 

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