Planning Commission deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia on Monday said that there was no change in its position on granting special category status on Bihar.
A panel headed by former Planning Commission secretary Sudha Pillai had rejected Bihar’s demand for special category status saying that the state fails to meet the status norms such as hilly and difficult terrain, low population density, sizeable tribal population, strategic borders with neighbouring countries and unviable nature of state finances.
“The group comes to a finding that Bihar’s case for special category state is not made out,” the panel said in its report to the Prime Minister’s Office last year.
The panel had, however, accepted that Bihar was facing “huge development deficit” and its per capita income was lower than the national average and may require additional financial benefits to improve socio-economic situation.
In toe with the panel’s recommendation, the Planning Commission is set to increase allocation for Bihar under the revamped Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF). The fund in its new format is expected to be implemented from the next financial year.
Ahluwalia told reporters that the panel’s position on special category status to Bihar has not changed. The panel had consistently maintained that Bihar does not fit the case for special category. Only the National Development Council --- a body of all chief ministers --- can change criteria for granting the status Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar is seeking.