CM Naveen Patnaik demands special category status to Odisha; bats for simultaneous Assembly & Lok Sabha Polls at NITI Aayog meet as frequent polls affect development

New Delhi: Chief Minister of Odisha, Shri Naveen Patnaik attended the Fifth Meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog chaired by Hon’ble Prime Minister in New Delhi today. Chief Minister, in his address, apprised the Governing Council that Odisha has come a long way – – From a poverty-stricken State to a State which showed the highest reduction of poverty among major States in a decade; – From a food deficient State to a rice surplus State and one of the largest contributors to the Central pool; and – From a helpless State at the time of disasters to a State which has set global standards in disaster management.

Addressing the NITI Aayog Governing Council as “Team India”, HChief Minister made some broad suggestions. Reminding that no country has ever progressed
without empowering its women, he called upon Team India to move towards empowering women in all spheres. As frequent elections affect development climate, he suggested
simultaneous elections in the country. He stated that in a large country like India, primary sector especially agriculture should always be taken care of. Suggesting judicious utilization of water resources, he expressed the view that the Second Green Revolution should happen in India’s dryland areas. He proposed that environment and economic development should go hand in hand. He was of the view that a scientific comprehensive survey was needed as most of the beneficiary-oriented schemes were based on such survey. Alternatively, schemes should be designed on universal self-targeting basis.

Chief Minister drew the attention of the Governing Council to the devastation caused by recent extremely severe cyclone ‘FANI’ to public infrastructure, property and livelihoods of the people of Odisha. Thanking the Government of India and other State Governments for their solidarity and assistance at the critical juncture, he sought immediate assistance of Rs.5228 crore from the Government of India to rebuild infrastructure and restore livelihood. He also sought the allocation of 5 lakh houses to provide pucca shelter to replace the damaged houses in the cyclone.
Chief Minister informed the Governing Council that the unique geo-climatic condition of Odisha made it vulnerable to multiple and frequent natural disasters. During the period 1900 to 2019, the State has experienced one or other disaster like flood, cyclone or drought every year. These natural calamities pose a serious challenge to our economic development. Therefore, he proposed that ‘natural calamity’ should be included as a criteria for according Special Category Status to Odisha. As an interim measure, he proposed, all States hit by major calamities may be declared as “Special Focus States” and granted benefits
of Special Category Status for a specific period. This will not only help Odisha but any other State which is hit by a major natural calamity.

Chief Minister informed the Governing Council that the State Government had introduced Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA) scheme for the welfare of 50 lakh small & marginal farmers and 25 lakh landless agriculture
households. In this context, he welcomed Prime Minister Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY) for providing income support to farmers. However, he strongly suggested inclusion of landless labourers and sharecroppers under PM-KISAN as rural prosperity and reduction in poverty cannot be achieved without adequate focus on these weaker sections of agriculture economy.

Chief Minister stated that creation of new and optimization of existing irrigation potential with due regard to water-use efficiency are key factors to achieve the goal of raising agricultural productivity and doubling income of the farmers. He mentioned that the State is well on course to create additional irrigation potential of about 10 lakh hectares over the last five years. During this period, about 15,000 medium large check dams and 30,000 small check dams have been taken up. In this context, he requested the Government of India to consider all irrigation projects which are lying incomplete as on 1st April, 2019 under Prime Minister Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY). Stating that 60:40 sharing pattern at 2012 price level of incomplete projects in reality amounts to State share of 80% at 2019 price
level, he requested the Government of India to increase the Central share to 75% under PMKSY with the cost of the projects to be assessed at 2019 level. As the flow of funds under
Watershed Development component of PMKSY has been very meagre from the Government of India, he suggested renewed focus on watershed development and new Central schemes
for development of command area as well as drainage channels and swamps in coastal areas.

Chief Minister informed that State Government’s commitment to provide piped drinking water to all by the year 2022. About 72 Mega Rural Water Supply projects and 4,200 new small piped water supply projects for a total outlay of Rs.18,600 crore are at
various stages of execution. In urban areas, the State would be achieving Piped Water Supply in all the habitations in all the wards of the urban areas before December 2019. Stating that
drinking water sector requires massive resources,  Chief Minister indicated that Central Government support in this sector was extremely meagre. He requested the Union Government to allocate a much higher quantum in drinking water supply.

Chief Minister informed the Governing Council that Odisha’s 10
Aspirational Districts suffer from inadequate road, rail and telecom connectivity as well as banking infrastructure. He proposed that there should be a priority component under
PMGSY-III to connect habitations with a population of 100 and below. The projects need to be expedited to extent rail connectivity to Kandhamal, Nawarangpur and Malkangiri districts.
The Central Government should take a comprehensive initiative to extent bank facilities to more than 70% Gram Panchayats not having any bank branch. Bharatnet Project should also
be implemented at a faster pace.
Chief Minister informed the Governing Council that the revision of coal royalty is already overdue since May, 2015. He requested the Government of India to revise the royalty on coal from 14% to 20% of sale value. As regards security situation on Left Wing Extremism (LWE) areas, Chief Minister indicated that success in controlling LWE menace had been achieved mainly due to
strategic intelligence based operation and progressive surrender and rehabilitation policy of the Government.