Monday, June 2, 2014

Naveen Patnaik seeks Rs 3,160 cr allocation in Rail Budget

Business Standard,  June 2, 2014
Patnaik called on the Prime Minister to present Odisha's demands to the newly elected BJP led NDA government
Odisha chief minister and Biju Janata Dal () supremo today urged Prime Minister  to allocate Rs 3, 160 crore for his state in the Railway Budget besides reiterating his demand to keep in abeyance the controversial Polavaram irrigation project.
Patnaik accompanied by his party's Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs, called on the Prime Minister to present Odisha's demands to the newly elected  led  government.
"We presented a number of demands including our long standing demand for special category status for Odisha. We have also sought revision in mineral royalty rates and demanded that the royalty rate be revised to 15 per cent (from 10 per cent presently). In addition, we have urged the Prime Minister to allow additional 0.5 million  (below poverty line) families beneficiaries under the Indira Gandhi National Pension Scheme to cover left out BPL persons", Patnaik told media persons after meeting Modi.
The BJD chief, however, denied talks on the possibility of his party joining the Modi led NDA coalition at the Centre.
Drawing the Prime Minister's attention to the Polavaram project in Seemandhra,Patnaik said states like Odisha, Telengana, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra were concerned about the adverse consequences of the project including submergence and flooding. Patnaik said the project would affect the vulnerable people living in Malkangiri district.
Raising the issue of lopsided development in Odisha's mineral rich regions, he said, "The rich minerals of Odisha are being exploited by a few mining entities who enjoy super normal profits and the state is not being adequately compensated for the negative externalities caused by mining. The state is losing over Rs five crore every day because of non-revision of royalty rates on minerals which were due for revision in August 2012."
Patnaik also pitched for introduction of mineral resource rent tax to ensure that windfall gains from mineral exploitation percolate to the affected locals.
Justifying Odisha's demand in , he said, "Till date, seven districts of Odisha have no railway network at all despite the fact that the state contributes over Rs 14,000 crore annually or about one tenth of the total revenues earned by the Indian Railways.
The previously announced rail projects like wagon factory in Ganjam district and wagon maintenance workshop in Kalahandi be implemented, he said.
For Nabakalebar, a ritual followed for centuries at the Jagannath Temple, Puir, Patnaik urged the Prime Minister to approve the additional central assistance of Rs 1397 crore sought by the state government from the Planning Commission.
Other demands made by the chief minister are inclusion of Sambalpuri/Kosali and Ho languages in the Eight Schedule of the Constitution and facilitating global flight operations from the Biju Patnaik international airport in Bhubaneswar.

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