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Naveen meets PM Modi, roots for 'special category' status for Odisha again

BS Reporter/Bhubaneswar 11 Jun 19 | 07:45 PM

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, once again raised the demand for according special category status to the state.

To shore up his demand, Patnaik said that 'natural calamity' should be a criterion for award of special category tag to states. “This will supplement state’s efforts for inclusive growth and development. The state should be provided Central assistance on 90:10 sharing pattern for Centrally sponsored schemes. He suggested that pending consideration of this request, the states hit by major calamities may be declared as ‘Special Focus States’ and granted benefits of a Special Category Status for a specific period", he said.

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Odisha's topography makes its coastline vulnerable to recurring natural disasters. Between 1900 and 2019, the state's coast was pounded by multiple cyclones. Odisha was also not spared nature's fury in the form of devastating floods and droughts.

Talking on the latest cyclonic storm 'Fani', Patnaik apprised the prime minister on the enormity of the damage caused to property and livelihoods of the people. 

“The state government has submitted a memorandum to the Ministry of Home Affairs after the assessment by different departments. The loss to public properties and funds required for prompt relief measures have been assessed at about Rs 9,336 crore. However, keeping in view the present State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF)/National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) norms, Odisha is seeking assistance of about Rs 5,228 crore from the National Disaster Response Fund immediately in order to meet the expenditure on the ongoing relief and restoration works in the aftermath of cyclone Fani", Patnaik said.

Turning to coal mining and its deleterious effects, the chief minister pressed upon the prime minister to revise the royalty rate from 14 per cent to 20 per cent. About a fifth of the country's coal is produced in Odisha. The state has been grappling with the negative effects of coal mining like environment pollution, displacement of people and strain on water resources and infrastructure.

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