Cong seeks Prez help for Special category status for Odisha

Bhubaneswar: Ahead of ruling BJD's 12-hour Hartal against alleged central negligence towards the state, Congress on Thursday urged President Pranab Mukherjee to grant Special Category State Status to Odisha.

Even 66 years after independence Odisha lags behind the national average on almost all development indicators, and the gap between the state and other prosperous states has been widening, Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) said in a memorandum to the President.

The party said 22 out 30 districts of the state have been affected by Maoist violence, largely caused by development and governance deficits. Shift in the policy is the need of the hour so that it could help backward states like Odisha to acquire Special Category Status, it said.

Stating that Special Category Status is necessary for Odisha, it said acute backwardness, low per capita income, increasing poverty ratio, unemployment among others should be considered.

On the recent allocation under BRGF (backward region grant funds), OPCC said Odisha got very small amount in comparison to Bihar and Bundelkhand region. "This has raised a feeling of injustice among the people and has fuelled greater expectations for higher central allocations and Special Category Status," OPCC president Niranjan Patnaik said.

Patnaik alleged that the state had "miserably failed" to utilise substantial funds provided by the centre.

Expressing concern for people of Odisha, Patnaik said inefficiency and bad governance of the state government should not deprive the people of higher transfers and more favourable investment regime that Special Category Status would bring.