BHUBANESWAR: With the Centre recognising Bihar and West Bengal as backward States, the ruling BJD, which has been demanding special category status for Odisha for a long time, will raise the issue of regional imbalance at the next meeting of the National Integration Council (NIC).
In the Union Budget, the Centre has provided `20,000 crore to the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog “as special assistance by specific intervention” for the two States.
While providing special economic package for Bihar and West Bengal, the Centre has decided to discontinue special Central assistance to undivided KBK districts, Integrated Action Plan (IAP) districts and Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF) to name a few.
The States will not receive any Central help for schemes such as police modernisation, tourist infrastructure, National e-Governance Plan. Several other schemes will undergo a changed sharing pattern between the Centre and the States.
“Odisha has been neglected while two other eastern States are given opportunity to grow faster. Such preferential treatment will widen the regional imbalance gap,” official sources said.
A high level meeting chaired by Chief Secretary G C Pati here recently identified issues to be raised at the next NIC meeting.
The State Government will demand reconsideration of the decision to change the funding patterns of some Central schemes in the light of the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission, which increased the States’ share in Central taxes.
Reduced Central allocation under Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), National Food Security Mission (NFSM) and Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) will put a heavy burden on the State Government to continue the scheme, the sources said.
Schemes such as Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNRUM) have nearly been phased out with the allocation to the proposed 100 Smart Cities scheme.
Other issues to be taken up at the NIC meeting include the deployment of Central para military forces (CPMF) in Left wing extremist (LWE)-affected districts without any charge on the State.
“Addressing the LWE issue is a joint responsibility of the Centre and the State. The State has deployed 20 battalion of armed police apart from providing logistic support to the CPMF,” the sources said.
The State Government will also highlight its infrastructure need in road, railway, airways and mobile connectivity. Since the State has pioneered power sector reforms at its own cost, it will demand special Central grants for rural electrification and improvement of power infrastructure.