Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik reiterated his serious concerns on the implementation of inter-State water projects including the Polavaram project and the ongoing construction activities in the upper catchment areas of River Mahanadi in Chhattisgarh.
Raising the issue at the 11th meeting of the Standing Committee of the Inter-State Council here today, Mr.Patnaik stated that the Union Government has not adopted principles of fairplay in declaring Polavaram as a National project and in assigning the task of taking decisions on contentious issues between the two States to a functionary of Polavaram project.
He urged the Union Government to discontinue the Polavaram project and constitute a Tribunal at the earliest to resolve the Mahanadi water dispute, and in the interim, stop all ongoing construction activities in Mahanadi basin in Chhattisgarh for protecting the livelihood of the people of Odisha. Concluding his observations,
The Chief Minister hoped that the specific concerns of Odisha and common issues concerning all States as raised by him will receive due consideration of the august Committee and the Union Government, in the true spirit of cooperative federalism.
Mr.Patnaik further expressed his concern at the demand of the Union Government’s thrust on the Left Wing Extremist (LWE) affected States for reimbursement of the cost of deployment of Central Armed Police Force(CAPF).
He stated that the threat of LWE Meance is a national challenge and is one of the biggest internal security threats faced by the Nation and the demand of the Union Government made to the States for reimbursing the cost on account of CAPF deployment is totally unjustified.
He urged upon the Centre to ensure equitable distribution of funds, logistic support and deployment of Central Forces and to bear the expenditure on their deployment.
The Chief Minister informed that Odisha has already furnished a consolidated response on the recommendations of the Punchhi Commission and has agreed to 136 recommendations, disagreed with 55 and conveyed conditional acceptance to 48 recommendations.
He stated that Odisha fully supports the recommendations of the Commission aimed at strengthening the autonomy of the States including defining the role of Governor and underlined that it should be our common endeavour to retain the constitutional integrity of our federal structure which provides for clear division of powers between the Union and the States.
Mr.Patnaik conveyed specific views of the State government on each recommendation contained in Volume-II and on various issues relating to Financial Relations between Centre and states, provided in Volume-III of the Report.
He pointed out that Odisha has a high percentage of population below poverty line and belonging to ST and SC and deserves the same sharing pattern at par with the North Eastern and Himalayan States.
Chief Minister said that this demand of the State is in line with the Punchhi Commission recommendation for higher Central transfers to backward States for improving their physical and human infrastructure.
The Chief Minister also mentioned that the decision taken in the GST Council meeting to use the proceeds of the clean environment cess for GST Compensation Fund, meant for all States, is clearly disadvantageous to coal bearing States like Odisha which have to bear the huge burden of environmental degeneration and the cost of rehabilitation.
He urged upon the Union Government to earmark 60 per cent of the clean environment cess for the coal bearing States.
Mr.Patnaik said that poor telecommunication connectivity including lower bandwidth, low financial inclusion and a lower bank credit, continue to remain major concerns of Odisha.
He informed that 28 per cent of the villages in the State do not have any mobile coverage; 70 percent of gram panchayats in Odisha do not have any bank branch; and the Credit-GSDP ratio at 24.75 percent is abysmally low, and impressed upon the Union Government to address these critical deficiencies urgently, to realise the goals of Digital India and balanced economic and social development.
Chief Minister informed the Standing Committee that the State Government has assured to provide land and part finance many railway projects for connecting hinterland Maoist affected areas and urged upon the Centre to support these projects with adequate funding including the proposed Malkangiri-Jeypore and Jeypore-Nabarangpur Rail projects.
He urged that the Union Government should provide adequate funds in the Union Budget for ordinary repair and periodical renewal of National Highways passing through Odisha, many of which are in a state of disrepair.