Odisha seeks special dispensation from Centre to catch up with frontline states
Bhubaneswar: Stressing that Odisha was burdened with infrastructural gaps and vulnerability to recurring natural calamities, chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday told a visiting team of NITI Aayog, the central government’s think tank, led by its vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar that it needs a special dispensation from the Centre to catch up with the frontline states.
Patnaik said Odisha has made substantial improvement in the last two decades both in macroeconomic indicators and socio-economic indicators, and that the state’s development interventions have been successful in combating Left Wing Extremism, mobilisation and economic empowerment of nearly 70 lakh women through Self Help Groups.
But he added that Odisha has faced 16 natural calamities in the past 11 years causing devastation to public and private properties worth more than ₹35,000 crore for which it needs special assistance. Though Odisha has been seeking special focus tag like for north eastern and Himalayan states citing the state’s vulnerability to calamities, it is the first time that he raised the demand for a special dispensation from the Centre.
Wednesday’s demand for special dispensartion was a marked departure from earlier demands of special focus state in which the sharing pattern between Centre and Odisha would be 90:10 for three years in the aftermath of a natural calamity.
During the interaction with the NITI Aayog vice-chairman, Patnaik said Odisha has its our own health scheme for cashless treatment in empanelled hospitals with wider coverage to reduce out of pocket health expenditure. “We are the third-largest contributor to PDS rice pool of the country. We have pioneered a conditional cash transfer system for pregnant women and lactating mothers. We have invested heavily for infrastructure development and has become an attractive investment destination in manufacturing and mining Industries,” he said.
Kumar congratulated Patnaik for the increase in the state’s per capita income, improvement in agriculture and mining along with managing the fiscal deficit below five percent. He also advised the state to improve its mining production and proposed that Odisha sets up a Sustainable Development Goals Monitoring Unit. He also offered to partner with Odisha for developing a state-specific development blueprint for the state.