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No special category status for Odisha

In a belated reply to the Chief Minister’s letter, Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia said Odisha does not satisfy the criteria fixed for grant of Special Category Status.

Ahluwalia’s reply came in response to Naveen’s November 24, 2011 letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue of special category State status for Odisha.

“You will appreciate that under the existing criteria approval by the National Development Council, Odisha does not qualify for grant of Special Category Status,” Ahluwalia said.

“The state of Odisha’s finances is stable and viable with sound indicators of fiscal deficit, outstanding liabilities and interest payments to total revenue receipt. The balance of current revenue (BCR) is also positive which contributes to plan resources,” he said, while rejecting the demand.

As regards the criterion of economic and infrastructural backwardness, the situation in Odisha presents a “mixed picture,” the Planning Commission said, adding that in the field of infrastructure, the State’s status is less than national average in terms of irrigation potential created and railway route per 100 sq km.

However, in terms of National Highway density, other roads and power infrastructure, Odisha’s potential is satisfactory, he said and added that “this criterion appears to be only partially satisfied.”

Montek Singh Ahluwalia
“Odisha does not satisfy the criterion of hilly and difficult terrain although forests in some areas do pose some difficulties,” he said, adding that the density of population of the State relative to general density of population in special category States is not low.

The proportion of tribal population in case of Odisha is relatively high as compared to the general category States, but is lower than several special category States, he said.

“The criterion of strategic location along international borders is not satisfied,” Ahluwalia said.

He said the decision to grant special category status to a particular State is to be taken by the National Development Council (NDC), which is the sole body competent to do so. (Source – New Indian Express)

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