Centre’s denial of SCS status to Odisha grossly unfortunate: BJD

Bhubaneswar: The ruling BJD on Sunday said the decision of the Centre not to accord Special Category Status (SCS) to Odisha is grossly unfortunate.

The reaction of the BJD came in the wake of the statement of NITI Aayog vice chairman Arvind Panagariya to the media on Saturday.

“The statement by the NITI Aayog vice chairman that there is no justification for special category state status to Odisha in the present scenario is grossly unfortunate. We have been demanding SCS status to Odisha since a long time and would stick to our demand till it is fulfilled. As Odisha is a tribal dominated state and fulfils all criteria as per the provisions, it thoroughly deserves special category status,” BJD spokesperson Pratap Jena told media here.

Countering the statement of Jena, BJP state president KV Singhdeo said as per the recommendation of the 14th Finance Commission, the Centre has allocated 10 per cent more financial assistance to the states.

“On the basis of the recommendation of the 14th Finance Commission, Odisha is now eligible for 42 percent of the Central assistance. Besides, as per the recommendation of the Commission, each state will formulate its own programmes as per its needs while the Centre would provide a lump sum amount for these programmes. Considering this, there will be no need to accord SCS to any state after the formation of the Niti Aayog which its vice-chairman had briefed the chief minister yesterday,” Singhdeo told the media.

Replying to the decision of the BJD to launch fresh agitation for fulfilment of its demands, he said no one can deny the ruling party to stage agitation as it is trying to politicise the issue.

“All you can say that this is a political drama of the ruling party,” he pointed out.

It may be mentioned that the Niti Aayog vice chairman during a press briefing on Saturday, had said there is no relevance of SCS status left for Odisha within this context.

“The grant, that used to be associated with the special category tag, has now been subsumed in the division of the resources by the Finance Commission between Centre and States,” he said.

He had also said that every time there is a new Finance Commission and they have different formula for devolution of funds.

“There are two issues – how much money goes from the Centre to the states taken together and distribution of the pie across the States. These days transfer of resources from the Centre to the States is getting larger. It‘s a horizontal distribution as per the present Finance Commission,” Panagariya said.