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Friday, March 05, 2021

Time to get out of poll mode, allow states to function: Odisha CM

Naveen Patnaik also called for serious deliberations to proceed on the demand for women's reservation in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies.

By: Express News Service | Bengaluru, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Delhi, Guwahati, Jaipur, Panaji, Patna, Raipur, Ranchi |
February 21, 2021 5:10:36 am
NITI Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar and Aayog’s CEO Amitabh Kant, who attended the meeting, address a press conference afterwards, in New Delhi on Saturday. (Express photo by Amit Mehra)

Chief Ministers raised several demands and flagged their concerns at the sixth Governing Council virtual meeting of Niti Aayog chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday. The Sunday Express takes a look at some of the suggestions.

Odisha: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said it is “high time that the country gets out of election mode and allows state governments to function”.

“Elections are an essential feature of democracy. However, the hallmark of a mature democracy is that once elected, governments are meant to work for people, beyond party lines. It’s high time that we, as a country, have serious introspection on whether we are able to do the same. Every crime is being politicised, every action of an elected government is being seen from a political angle,” he said while describing the current environment as one of the biggest threats to the pace of development and peace in the country.

The Chief Minister also called for serious deliberations to proceed on the demand for women’s reservation in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies. He also pushed for committed and targeted action by the NITI Aayog in regions that are neglected and populations that are vulnerable in areas such as “malnutrition, connectivity, sex ratio imbalances”.

Arguing that the existing pattern of examinations will eliminate merit in the long run and deny justice to lakhs of children in rural areas, Patnaik also pitched for a revaluation of the examination pattern for UPSC, NEET and JEE. “History will remember us on what our response has been on critical issues affecting our people and the country, rising above political considerations,” he said.

Rajasthan: Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot urged the Prime Minister to declare the Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project (ERCP) as a national project.

Gehlot said while Rajasthan is the largest state in the country with 10 per cent of the land mass, it still has water scarcity as it has been part of the desert.

Gehlot said Prime Minister Modi had himself promised to declare ERCP as a national project during his visits to Rajasthan. He said the estimated cost of the ERCP plan is around Rs 40,000 crore and it is not possible to be borne by the state government alone. “There are 16 such projects which are national projects in states…. If in place of 16 projects, there are 17, then I feel this project can be completed on priority,” said Gehlot. “Under this, both irrigation could be done as well as drinking water will also be available…this is your promise and I am reminding you of it,” said Gehlot.

Bihar: Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said the Centre should adopt “one nation, one electricity rate” policy. He also asked the Centre to increase the credit deposit ratio of Bihar. He said the money of Bihar deposited in Bihar’s banks often goes to developed states. He reiterated the demand for special category status to Bihar.

Karnataka: Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to declare the Upper Bhadra Project and Upper Krishna Project irrigation projects as national projects. He also requested approval for six proposals worth Rs 6,673 crore for modernisation of canals and additional grants for river diversion projects. The PM was requested to set up a mechanism to fast-track disposal of cases in courts because infrastructure projects tend to get stalled due to litigation and environmental protests.

Chhattisgarh: Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel requested the Prime Minister to provide additional economic resources to Chhattisgarh, saying that a special package is expected for industrial development. He said the state is deprived of coal blocks despite having large reserves of mineral coal. After 2014, the royalty rates of minerals have not increased, and this has caused irreparable damage to the state government, he said.

Baghel also requested not to disinvest the Nagarnar Steel Plant of Bastar. He urged the Prime Minister to provide GST compensation, the amount of additional levy on coal, the remaining amount of rice in the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana under the PDS, as well as the state’s total amount of Rs 13,440 crore as soon as possible and to keep the amount of excise duty to be paid to the state, as it is.

Madhya Pradesh: Stating that Madhya Pradesh is committed to achieve the target or GDP of 10 lakh crore this year to make India an economy of $ 5 trillion by 2024, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan emphasised that the six-point agenda of police commission will be given practical form. Initiative will be undertaken in the private sector to develop forest and solar energy in the degraded forest area spread over 30 lakh hectares in the state to monetise assets in a scientific manner.

Calling the three new farm laws revolutionary, Chouhan said the state has already started working to become a self-reliant Madhya Pradesh, in line with PM Modi’s vision for a self-reliant India. He said the Governing Council of NITI Aayog is an ideal platform for interaction between the Centre as well as states.

Goa: Chief Minister Pramod Sawant sought the Centre’s help in bringing about an amendment to the mining laws, especially for Goa. He also urged the Centre to shift towards vertical mobility’ for execution of its infrastructure projects in small states with limited land availability.

Sawant said only 30 percent land is available for development activities in Goa and central projects have a huge land requirement . He said, “We will get relief if vertical mobility is brought about in these projects.”

“Our efforts are going on in full swing towards central government projects like Mopa International Airport, national highway, double tracking of rail. You will have our full support,” Sawant said. The three projects have faced opposition in Goa.

Mining activity was banned in Goa following a Supreme Court order in 2018. “This has had a big impact on the state’s economy and on jobs. I request you to grant us some relief in mining activity,” Sawant said at the meeting. He also sought ‘necessary amendments’ in the Coastal Zone Regulations for sand mining.

Assam: Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said that considering the paucity of land in the state, the NITI Aayog must give special relaxation to Assam for setting up of any mega-project.

Jharkhand: Chief Minister Hemant Soren asked the Centre to consider the proposal for the demand of Sarna Adivasi Dharma Code after it was passed in the Jharkhand Assembly. Soren also demanded that the pension to senior citizens should be universal and that the minimum MGNREGA wage be increased.

Delhi: Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said India should pursue manufacturing “aggressively” to counter China which has “captured” Indian markets. He said the Centre and state governments should promote start-ups.

Uttar Pradesh: Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said UP “has become the first state in the country to administer Covid-19 vaccinations to 10 lakh people”.

Highlighting the NITI Aayog’s agenda of ‘Making India a Global Manufacturing Hub’, he said that UP has successfully implemented more than 500 reforms under the Business Reform Action Plan that has helped it move from 12th position to second in the country in the Ease of Doing Business rankings.

With ENS inputs from Bhubaneswar, Jaipur, Patna, Bengaluru, Raipur, Bhopal, Panaji, Guwahati, Ranchi, Delhi

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