New Delhi: A delegation of Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee on Friday met Finance Minister P Chidambaram and demanded a financial package for the state on the lines of special allocation for Bihar and conferment of special category status. It also demanded setting up of a high-level fast track inquiry against the BJD government in the state to "expose massive mis-utilisation of public funds".
The delegation led by PCC President Niranjan Patnaik hailed Chidambaram's announcement of a policy shift in determining a backward state and noted that the financial dispensation for addressing Odisha's backwardness becomes imperative. "This policy shift is most welcome and, once finalized, would help deserving backward states like Odisha for substantially higher flow of central funds including conferment of special category status," Patnaik said in a memorandum submitted to the Finance Minister.
"We would urge you to kindly consider Odisha's case for need-based special financial assistance to adequately address our huge developmental deficit and persistent backwardness," he said. Noting that Odisha's per capita plan outlay is much less than that of developed states like Karnataka, Gujarat, Punjab, Maharashtra, he said this makes the state eligible for significantly increased plan size. The delegation's meeting with Chidambaram came on a day when BJD enforced a day-long dharna in the state protesting the Centre's alleged apathy towards extending far less financial package for the state in comparison to Bihar.
Patnaik, however, alleged the state government was unable to utilise the funds properly under various central schemes and is mis-utilising them. "It is true that UPA government has been providing substantial funds to Odisha under various central schemes which unfortunately the state government is not able to
utilize properly and fully. "
"Massive mis-utilization of central funds and using every subterfuge to gain political mileage from central largesse has become common place in Odisha under the present BJD government," he charged. Noting that CAG has repeatedly castigated the state government for "mis-use" of central funds, he said "it is time that a high-level fast track inquiry is instituted to expose this massive pilferage of public money".