Odisha CM calls on PM Modi, reiterates ‘special status’ demand and stepping up of aid post Fani


Samikshya Bureau

Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday in New Delhi. He is reported to have discussed issues pertaining to the state, including the demand for conferring special category status to Odisha, sources said.

A picture of the two leaders meeting was tweeted by the Prime Minister’s Office.

This is the first meeting between the two came after Patnaik was sworn in as chief minister of Odisha for a record  fifth time and Modi returned to office with a thumping majority.

Patnaik apprised Modi that the unique geo-climatic conditions of Odisha made it vulnerable to multiple and frequent natural disasters.

During the period from 1900 to 2019, the state has experienced one or the other disaster like floods, cyclone or drought every year. It has been affected by about 35 per cent of all the cyclonic and severe cyclonic storms that has crossed the eastern coast of India.

Patnaik urged upon Modi to include ‘Natural Calamity’ as an indicator to accord Special Category Status to Odisha saying that it would supplement Odisha’s efforts for inclusive growth and development. He added that the state should be provided central assistance on 90:10 sharing pattern for centrally sponsored schemes.

The chief minister suggested that pending consideration of this request, Odisha, which had been hit by major calamities, might be declared as ‘Special Focus States’ and granted benefits of a Special Category Status for a specific period. This will help reconstruction of infrastructure and restoration of livelihoods. This will not only help ‘Odisha’ but any state of the country which is hit by a major natural calamity, the chief minister is said to have stressed.

Patnaik thanked the Prime Minister for the support of the Union government to the state government for effectively managing Cyclone Fani and its aftermath. He apprised Modi that the cyclone caused massive devastation to the property and livelihoods of the people.

Patnaik urged upon Modi to sanction 5 lakh Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Gramin) Special Houses for Odisha on a sharing pattern of 90:10 as a special case. He informed the latter that the state government had submitted a memorandum to the home ministry after the assessment by different departments.

According to the assessment, about 5.6 lakh houses have been damaged. Millions of trees have been uprooted and crops, orchards and animals have perished. Public infrastructure like electricity transmission and distribution, drinking water supply, roads and bridges, canal embankments, health centres, school buildings and community assets have suffered huge damage. In many areas, electricity infrastructure has to be rebuilt afresh.

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 the cyclone.

Patnaik also raised the issue of non-revision of royalty on coal which was last revised on May 10, 2012. The additional revenue generated by royalty revision will immensely help Odisha to accelerate development works. He therefore urged upon Modi to revise the royalty on coal from 14 per cent to 20 per cent of the sale value.