Odisha seeks special assistance from Centre

New Delhi/Bhubaneswar, Oct 22 (IANS) Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday urged the Centre to provide a greater share in special central assistance to the state due to its backwardness and socio-economic indicators.

During a meeting with union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in New Delhi, Patnaik said Odisha deserved a greater share in central assistance compared with other eastern states in terms of its backwardness and low levels of almost all socio-economic indicators.

He said the state’s problems were compounded by natural calamities that played havoc with the state’s economy.

He said that during 2015, kharif crops were severely impacted in large parts of Odisha due to inadequate rains in July and August and damage in about 5.32 lakh hectares of cropped area.

Pointing out that the state had already announced drought assistance for farmers estimated to cost over Rs.1,000 crore, the chief minister urged Jaitley to recognise the state’s severe challenges and provide special central assistance of at least Rs.3,500 crore to Odisha at the earliest.

The chief minister told Jaitley that discontinuance of central assistance for key area development programmes, including special plan for Koraput, Balangir and Kalahandi districts, Backward Region Grant Fund and Integrated Action Plan for Left Wing Extremism affected districts were severely impacting the most vulnerable groups in backward regions of Odisha.

He urged for restoration of these critical schemes or a special package to the state for continuation of these vital programmes.

Patnaik asked for enhanced outlay under Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme for Odisha so that ongoing major and medium irrigation and flood control projects were completed without delay.

The chief minister also sought enhanced allocations under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana.

The union finance minister assured that the demands would be considered favourably and the state’s interests protected while finalising devolution of special central assistance of Rs.20,000 crore provisioned in the current Budget, said a release from the Chief Minister’s Office in Bhubaneswaer.

Jaitley assured that he would look into the issues of restoring central assistance for key development programmes and additional funds under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme, the release said.

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