Naveen seeks PM
Bhubaneswar: Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday sought intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and requested to take expeditious steps for declaring Odisha as a Special Category State (SCS).
In a letter to the PM, Patnaik stated that the criteria interpreted by Planning Commission deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia in May, denying SCS for Odisha, ‘appears to be superficial and fails to take a holistic view of the matter’.
The CM reasoned that more than half of the State has hilly and difficult terrain and faces serious connectivity and other infrastructural challenges. The State has very low population density i.e. only 270 per sqkm as compared to national average of 382 in 2011.
“It has very high concentration of ST & SC population, i.e. 39.9 per cent in 2011 with very high incidence of poverty (i.e. 32.6 per cent, Tendulkar method, 2011-12) and adverse socio- economic and human development indicators,” he said.
The letter further read, “Six Special Category States have much lower ST and SC populations than Odisha and nine of them have much lower poverty levels than the State. While eight such states have much higher capita incomes than Odisha, equal number of states have higher literacy rates than Odisha (i.e. 73.4 per cent in 2011).”
Mentioning about efforts of the State government to reduce poverty, he said Odisha is still the sixth highest in terms of incident of poverty in 2011-12, despite reducing it by 24.6 percentage points between 2004-05 and 2011-12.
Patnaik too mentioned that the Odisha Assembly has passed a unanimous resolution on April 4, 2013 to urge the Central Government to declare Odisha as a Special Category State.
On May 7, Ahluwalia had conveyed the State government that the request of Odisha for SCS does not meet the criteria, that was approved by the National Development Council, viz: hilly and difficult terrain; low population density; strategic location along borders with neighbouring countries; economic and infrastructural backwardness; and non-viable nature of State finances.