Bihar, Jharkhand pension issue likely to be raised in Eastern Zonal Council meet

Published on Apr 10, 2022 10:40 AM IST

Several inter-state issues will be discussed in the meeting of the Eastern Zonal Council, comprising the states of Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal and Jharkhand.

The meeting of the Eastern Zonal Council will be held on April 26 in Kolkata. (Representational Image)
The meeting of the Eastern Zonal Council will be held on April 26 in Kolkata. (Representational Image)

PATNA: The Eastern Zonal Council, comprising the states of Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal and Jharkhand, will hold a meeting on April 26 in Kolkata where several inter-state issues will be discussed, people familiar with the matter said.

This time, the member states will be represented by chief secretaries instead of chief ministers of respective states, officials said.

The foremost issue on the agenda relating to Bihar is likely to be the state government’s ongoing dispute with Jharkhand for the latter’s alleged failure to make payment against pension liabilities for retired employees for the last three years.

Post bifurcation of Bihar and creation of Jharkhand in year 2000, the two governments had agreed on sharing the assets and liabilities under which the sharing of pension liabilities of retired employees was made on the ratio of number of employees.

While in the initial years, both Bihar and Jharkhand did fulfill the pension liabilities as per number of employees ratio, there was dispute over payment of liabilities between the two states in 2012. It was later resolved. Again, a few years back, the Jharkhand government approached the Supreme Court challenging that the formula of sharing pension liabilities was wrong.

Officials said the Jharkhand government’s plea in the apex court is that sharing of pension liabilities on the basis of employees’ ratio as per provisions of Bihar Reorganisation Act, 2000 was flawed as in all previous states reorganisation acts, population ratio has been made the main criteria of sharing of liabilities including pension.

“The Jharkhand government is pitching for population ratio as criteria for calculating pension liability as the amount is much less than when calculated on number of employees ratio,” said a senior officer.

Officials said the matter is pending in the apex court even as Jharkhand government has stopped making payments for last few years despite getting regular reminders from the Bihar government. In December 2021, the Bihar government sent a reminder to the Jharkhand government to pay 975 crore as pension dues against pension liabilities 2018-19 to 2020-21.

Reached for comments, Jharkhand chief secretary Sukhdeo Singh told HT that Jharkhand government did pay its pension liabilities in the past but some complication had arisen because of the correctness of figures related to pension liability bill.

“We did our own calculations and found the figures to be different from the amount being asked against pension liabilities. The complication is basically on the correctness of the figures,” he said, adding that Jharkhand government has approached the Supreme Court relating to the pension liability issue and the matter is pending.

Singh said the matter might be discussed at the eastern zonal council meeting.

On his part, chief secretary, Bihar Amir Subhani said the pension liability issue with Jharkhand might come up at the Eastern Zonal Council meeting. “The agenda has not come, yet. If it is on the list, we will discuss the matter,” he said.

The Council meeting is also likely to discuss the measures and better co-ordination between states, especially Bihar, Jharkhand and Bengal, to tackle left wing extremism (LWE), which continues to pose a challenge for security forces in the eastern states. Issues related to water management and roads may also be on the agenda along with other inter-state issues, officials said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    A journalist for 21 years, Anirban covers RJD, legislature and government beats. Has extensive experience in covering elections and writes regularly on finance, land reforms, registration, excise and socio-economic issues.

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