OPCC chief meets PM, seeks spcl financial package for Odisha

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) President Niranjan Patnaik, who led a delegation of state leaders, on Saturday called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his residence in New Delhi to seek a special financial package for the state.

"The Prime Minister agreed with most of our demands. He said the Centre has no issues in allocating more money to the state. However, the state government is not sending any new proposal to the Planning Commission and under the revised guidelines of backwardness, the state would get its due share," Patnaik told reporters.

The delegation that met the Prime Minister included Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh, senior party leaders Prasad Harichandan.

Meanwhile, senior BJD leader and Panchayati Raj minister Kalpataru Das said, "The Congress leaders should have asked the Prime Minister how much financial package others states are getting and their utilisation certificates. Odisha's utilisation of funds is far more than other states."

Earlier, on Friday, the OPCC president and other Congress leaders had met Finance Minister P Chidambaram in this regard.

Patnaik had also submitted a memorandum to President Pranab Mukherjee during the latter's visit to the state on Wednesday.

"Our people have waited patiently for long, but by now 22 of 30 districts have become affected by acute Maoist violence, which is largely caused by development and governance deficits," the memorandum, submitted to Prime Minister and Finance Minister, says.

The memorandum also noted that Odisha's per capita plan outlay is much less than that of developed states like Karnataka, Gujarat, Punjab, Maharashtra and stressed on the need to increase the Plan size significantly.

"In these circumstances, special financial dispensation for addressing Odisha's backwardness becomes imperative. A substantial financial package on the lines allocated recently by the Central Government for Bihar and Bundelkhand region needs to be replicated for Odisha also," the memorandum says.

(With Agency inputs)