BHUBANESWAR: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday demanded a special economic package for the eastern region stating that it lags in many sectors despite being endowed with natural and mineral resources. At the 24th Eastern Zonal Council (EZC) meeting here, presided by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Naveen spoke on behalf of the entire eastern zone and said the region is underdeveloped in terms of teledensity, railway network as well as banking density compared to other zones, and therefore, needs a special financial package for infrastructure development.
“If a nationwide analysis is done, East Zone will be at the bottom in all these subjects which are in the Union List. There is a need to double the allotments to this region so that they catch up with national benchmarks,” he said. Since one of the prime objectives of Zonal Council is national integration and creation of healthy inter-state and Centre-state relations, the Chief Minister said, “Integration has to be financial, infrastructural and technological so that it leads to and strengthens emotional integration.” The Eastern Zone contributes maximum to the mineral wealth of the country and ensures security for manufacturing and energy sectors, he said adding, the fruits of this wealth should boost economic growth of the region.
He also pointed out that royalty on coal has not been revised since 2012 and there is an urgent need to review this as well as the share of clean energy cess with the state governments. “Our region has some of the largest scheduled areas of the country. I reiterate my demand for inclusion of Ho, Bhumij and Mundari languages in the Eighth Schedule of Constitution,” he said.
‘Eastern zone deserves special package’
Taking up Odisha specific issues, Naveen said he is thankful to the Centre for supporting the State during cyclone Fani last year. “Taking the frequency of natural disasters faced by Odisha into consideration, vulnerability to natural calamity should be taken as a criteria to declare the State a Special Focus State,” he said.He also pointed out that delay in release of grants to urban local bodies and non-release of subsidy for paddy procurement are causing problems to farmers.
The State provides 50 per cent of estimated cost and free land for important railway projects but the progress has been “very slow”, he added.West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumaralso attended the meeting. Jharkhand Finance Minister Rameshwar Oraon
represented Chief Minister Hemant Soren.Earlier, Shah was given a rousing reception by thousands of BJP workers at Bhubaneswar airport. Union Ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and Pratap Chandra Sarangi, party national vice-president Baijayant Panda and other senior leaders were present.
Tele-density Railway network Banking density Double allotments Raising coal royalty Special Focus State
Timely release of grants.