New Delhi: Chief Minister of Odisha, Shri Naveen Patnaik participated in the Twelfth Meeting of the Standing Committee of the Inter-State Council in New Delhi today. The meeting was chaired by the Union Home Minister, Shri Rajnath
Singh. Union Finance Minister, Union Minister for Law and Justice, Union Minister for Social Justice & Empowerment, Chief Ministers of Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Tripura also participated in the meeting.
Union Home Minister, Shri Rajnath Singh, in his welcome address informed that the Standing Committee in its Eleventh Meeting held on 9th April, 2017 had deliberated on Volumes I and II of the Punchhi Commission recommendations.
He informed that the Twelfth Meeting of the Standing Committee has been convened today to discuss the next three volumes of the Punchhi Commission recommendations i.e. Volumes III, IV and V encompassing variety of subjects from Centre-State
Financial Relations, Local Self Governance and Internal Security and Criminal Justice
issues affecting the States. He suggested that the recommendations made by the
Punchhi Commission in these three volumes may be taken up para-wise for
consideration by the Standing Committee of the Inter-State Council.
Hon’ble Chief Minister of Odisha, Shri Naveen Patnaik informed that Odisha
has already sent a consolidated response on all the 239 recommendations of the
Punchhi Commission contained in seven volumes. He expressed concern that though
the recommendations of the Commission were received in 2010, these have not been
implemented so far and impressed upon the Chairman and participants of the Standing
Committee to accept the recommendations early after factoring in the responses of the
States to strengthen the federal fabric of our nation.
Hon’ble Chief Minister underlined some of the more important concerns
currently affecting the State and urged upon the Standing Committee to take urgent
action on these issues along with the Commission’s recommendations. He stated that
low telecom connectivity and poor financial inclusion remain major concerns of
Odisha. He added that 70 per cent of Odisha’s Gram Panchayats do not have any bank
presence and only 221 branches have been opened in last three years. He emphasised
that the goal of digital payment may not be realised unless there is an appreciable
improvement of connectivity in Odisha.
Hon’ble Chief Minister mentioned that Odisha should be given flexibility to
operate all the Centrally Sponsored Schemes directly through Integrated Financial
Management System (IFMS) instead of opening separate scheme-based bank accounts
since Odisha has a robust Integrated Financial Management System which is fully
integrated with Public Financial Management System (PFMS).
Chief Minister mentioned that people of Odisha are hugely dependent
on the waters of river Mahanadi and expressed serious concern that the flow in the
river Mahanadi in the downstream State of Odisha has dipped alarmingly on account
of unilateral action of construction activities undertaken by Chhattisgarh State. He
urged upon the Standing Committee to take urgent action to stop this unilateral
construction in Chhattisgarh and constitute a Tribunal without further delay to address
the problem. He also urged to discontinue Polavaram project in Andhra Pradesh as it
will impact a large number of people in hinterland tribal district of Malkangiri
Chief Minister mentioned that the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for
paddy fixed by Government of India at Rs.1470 per quintal is not commensurate with
the rising cost of inputs and the non-remunerative MSP acts as a deterrent to doubling
farmers’ income. He urged upon the Standing Committee to take up the matter with
the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare and consider the proposal of Odisha
Government to fix the MSP of common paddy at Rs.2930 per quintal in the interest of
farmers of the State.
Hon’ble Chief Minister highlighted that the Left Wing Extremism poses the
biggest threat to the internal security and impressed upon the Committee to ensure
equitable distribution and deployment of Central Forces, funds and logistic support
and not insist upon reimbursement of the cost of deployment of Central Forces in the
LWE affected States. He impressed upon the Chairman to deploy at least two
Battalions of CAPF in Odisha at the earliest to address asymmetric deployment of
CAPF along the border vis-a-vis Chhattisgarh State.
Hon’ble Chief Minister mentioned that the royalty on coal which was due for
revision in April, 2015 should be revised upwards at the earliest. In addition, he
mentioned that at least 60 per cent of the clean environment cess should be earmarked
for the coal bearing States which have to bear the cost of environmental degeneration
and rehabilitation. He stated that the Punchhi Commission has recommended for
higher Central transfer for backward States for improving their physical and human
infrastructure and stressed that Odisha should have the same sharing pattern in
Centrally Sponsored Schemes at par with North-Eastern and Himalayan States as the
State has high percentage of people below poverty line and belonging to ST and SC.
Concluding his observations, Hon’ble Chief Minister expressed hope that the
specific concerns of Odisha as raised by him and common issues concerning all States
will receive favourable consideration of the august Committee and the Union
Government in the true spirit of cooperative federalism