CM Naveen Patnaik writes letter to PM Narendra Modi seeking ‘Special Category Status’ for Odisha

Bhubaneswar: CM Naveen Patnaik writes letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking ‘Special Category Status’ for #Odisha; the CM demands attention from the Central Government on subjects like tele density, railway network, banking coverage, National Highway and air connectivity.

“Successive Central Government has neglected Odisha. It is a fact that Odisha remains at the bottom in the country in most Central Subjects like Tele density, Railway network, Banking network and coverage, National Highways and Air connectivity,” the CM wrote in the letter.

The CM said it is in this premise of historical Central neglect and frequent natural calamities that my Government has been demanding Special Category Status for Odisha which will supplement our efforts in transforming the State.

He said Odisha is registering a growth rate higher than the nation’s growth rate. Providing Special Category Status will further accelerate industrial development and in turn more jobs for our youth.

“Our pace of transformation has been remarkable and our growth has been inclusive. Further, the nation benefits immensely from the natural resources of Odisha. In fact, the iron ore deposits and other minerals have contributed significantly to nation building throughout the years. Odisha plays a major role in the energy security of the country through its coal deposits. Railways get among their highest profits from Odisha,” Naveen said in the letter.

Patnaik said the Very Severe Cyclonic Storm ‘Titli’ which hit Odisha coast on October 11, 2018 triggered high velocity wind and torrential rainfall over a large part of Odisha causing heavy floods and inundation, uprooting trees and large scale damage to standing crops, dwelling houses and public infrastructure including roads, bridges, power distribution, drinking water and Irrigation systems.

The State Government has taken all possible measures to secure fife and property; to provide relief to people; and to restore connectivity, power and drinking water supply. We now face a daunting long term task of recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation that require huge resources, he added.

It is evident that the unique geo-climatic conditions of Odisha make it vulnerable to multiple and recurring natural disasters. During the period from 1900 to 2018, the State has experienced one or the other disasters like flood, cyclone, tornado or drought every year. In some years, we have faced multiple disasters in the same year. More than 80 per cent of the geographical area and nearly 90 per cent of population of our State are vulnerable to one or more disasters, he maintained.

Amongst all the natural disasters afflicting the State, cyclones and floods are the most frequent and devastating. Odisha has been affected by about 35 per cent of all the cyclonic and severe cyclonic storms that have crossed the eastern coast of India. With the current trend of the climatic change, the coastal areas of Odisha are likely to be more vulnerable to extreme climatic events and severe cyclonic disturbances. The pattern of drought in the State is also of great concern, as drought invariably affects the State, sometimes in entirety and at other times, in some regions or districts, Patnaik said.

The present mechanisms of State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) and National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) are based on recommendations of Central Finance Commissions. The annual corpus of SDRF of each State is fixed with Central and State share, which takes care of only immediate relief and restoration. The reconstruction of damaged public infrastructure falls outside the ambit of SDRF and NDRF norms with a few exceptions, he added.

The CM said that additional assistance from NDRF provided in case of a calamity of a severe nature is highly inadequate relative to damage to infrastructure and livelihoods leaving the State with no alternative but to manage recovery and reconstruction from its own limited resources.

Despite several challenges Odisha has made steady progress on socio economic development front. The Gross State Domestic Product of Odisha has increased by about 50% during last six years. Poverty in Odisha has declined by 24.61% from 2004-05 to 2011-12, which is the highest reduction among major States in the country. The State has launched its own food security and health security schemes.

The State has made substantial progress in areas of institutional delivery, full immunization coverage and reduction in IMR and MMR. The initiative taken by the State for eradication of malaria in inaccessible areas through a special intervention namely, DAMAN has been appreciated by World Health Organisation. MAMATA, the largest Conditional Cash Transfer Scheme, a flagship programme of the State launched in 2011 has benefitted more than 31 lakh women for child birth.

To empower women, more than 6 lakh SHGs have been formed under Mission Shakti programme comprising of 70 lakh members, who are involved in income generating activities. Odisha has bagged the best State Award in skill development of rural youth for two years in a row.

About 20 lakh houses have been completed under the various Rural Housing Schemes since financial year 2014-15, which is the highest in the country. The State as a whole and 6 of our districts were awarded by the Government of India for outstanding achievement in implementation of PMAY (Gramin) during 2016-17.

The State has received a total of three awards under PMGSY for the year 2017-18. The electricity consumer base has increased from 16 lakh in the year 2000 to 72 lakh now. Additional irrigation potential of about 8 lakh hectares has been created since 2014 and we are on course to surpass the 10 lakh hectares target that my Government has set for Itself for the five-year period. Odisha has been awarded the prestigious Krishi Karman Award for a record number of five times.

“Kindly consider Odisha’s request as a unique one and support us in the fast pace, inclusive development of Odisha,” Patnaik added.

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