‘Jharkhand does not qualify for special category status’

New Delhi: Jharkhand does not qualify under the criteria for being given the status of a special category state and such a request for Bihar, Odisha and Rajasthan is under consideration, Parliament was informed on Thursday.

"In case of request received from Jharkhand, it has been communicated in January, 2013, to the Government of Jharkhand that based on an integrated consideration of existing criteria, Jharkhand does not qualify for grant of special category status," Planning Minister Rajeev Shukla said in written reply to Rajya Sabha.

"The requests of Bihar, Odisha and Rajasthan for special category status are under examination in the Planning Commission," the Minister added.

The special category status to various states in accorded by the National Development Council (NDC) based on consideration of a set of criteria, he said.

The set of criteria include hilly and difficult terrain; low population density and or sizeable share of tribal population; strategic location along borders with neighbouring countries; economic and infrastructure backwardness and non-viable nature of state finances.

According to the Gadgil formula for devolution of Central assistance for state plans, 30 per cent of the total funds is earmarked for Special Category States.

As against the composition of Central assistance of 30 per cent grant and 70 per cent loan for major States (characterised as non-special category States), special category states receive 90 per cent plan assistance as grant and just 10 per cent as loan.

Similarly, the special category states receive favoured treatment from the Finance Commission in respect of devolution of Central tax revenues.

The special category status states include Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Sikkim.

The Minister informed the House that the proposal to restructure the Backward Region Grant Fund (BGRF) and revise guidelines for determining backwardness is under consideration.

The areas which receive BGRF include Koraput-Bolangir- Kalahandi (KBK) in Odisha and parched land of Bundelkhand which falls in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.