New Delhi: Naveen Patnaik-led Biju Janata Dal (BJD) on Monday accused the Centre of playing politics in fund allocations to states and neglecting Odisha's long pending demand for special category status. "Getting special category status is the genuine rights of the state. It is not a mercy, but the right (of the state). The state deserves the special category status as it fulfils all the criteria...," BJD vice-president and state panchayat raj minister Kalpataru Das said at a press conference in Delhi.
Though Odisha contributes a lot to the Centre, the state gets minimal help from it under the federal structure, he alleged. "It's high time the state is accorded the Special Category status." To reiterate its demand, the BJD will hold a massive rally 'Swabhiman Samabesh' at Ramlila Grounds on Wednesday, which would also be culmination of 'Swabhiman Yatra' and one crore signature campaign that started on April 28 - the birth anniversary of Odisha's noted leader Utkal Gourav Madhusudan Das.
"In some anticipation you are giving special package to Bihar, but Planning Commission has rejected our demand citing reasons that our finances were stable and viable with sound indicators of fiscal deficit, outstanding liabilities and interest payments," he said, adding that "we are not against Bihar, but we also should not be neglected". Das said Odisha had been treated unfairly in utilisation of its vast mineral resources, as the royalty rates on mineral resources were quite low and left unrevised by the Union government.
Similarly, the density of railway track network in Odisha (15.03 route kilometres per 1,000 square kilometres) is worst among the eastern states. While the national average is 19.22 route kms, West Bengal has 43.3 route kms, Bihar has 35.9 route kms, he said. The BJD leader said "while Odisha contributes around Rs 14,000 crore in annual revenues to Railways, which is the highest in India, its share in the last Railway budget was only Rs 869 crore."
Despite making rapid progress on several fronts, he said, the state still does not fare well on many socio-economic indicators like per capita income, poverty ratio, infant mortality ratio, maternal mortality ratio. Among other BJD leaders present at the press conference were Debi Prasad Mishra, party state general secretary and Minister of Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, Sanjay Kumar Dasburma, state president of Biju Yuva Janata Dal and Bolangir MP Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo.