Naveen Patnaik Meets PM Modi

New Delhi: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik met Prime Minister in New Delhi today. Chief Minister congratulated PM for winning the people’s mandate for the second term. Prime Minister also congratulated Patnaik on his re-election for the fifth term.

Naveen apprised PM that the unique geo-climatic conditions of Odisha make 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, 2 cyclone or drought every year. It has been affected by about 35% of all the cyclonic and severe cyclonic storms that has crossed the eastern coast of India.

Chief Minister urged upon Prime Minister to include ‘Natural Calamity’ as an indicator to accord Special Category Status to Odisha. This will supplement State’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.

Naveen suggested that pending consideration of this request, the States hit by major calamities may 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.

Chief Minister thanked Modi for the support of the Union Government to effectively manage cyclone “FANI” and its aftermath. He apprised the Prime Minister that the cyclone “FANI” has caused massive devastation to the property and livelihoods of the people. 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 & distribution, drinking water supply, roads & bridges, canal embankments, health centres, school buildings and community assets have suffered huge damage. In many areas, electricity infrastructure has to be rebuilt afresh.

Chief Minister urged upon Prime Minister to sanction 5 lakh Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Gramin) Special Houses for Odisha on a sharing pattern of 90:10 as a special case. The Permanent Wait List (PWL) criterion should also be waived for this special allocation.

Naveen informed Modi that the State Government has submitted a Memorandum to the Ministry of Home Affairs after the assessment by different Departments. 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 3 Disaster Response Fund immediately in order to meet the expenditure on the ongoing relief and restoration works in the aftermath of cyclone “FANI”.

Chief Minister highlighted that the reconstruction of damaged public infrastructure largely falls outside the ambit of State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF)/ National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) with a few exceptions. Additional assistance from NDRF provided in case of a calamity of a severe nature was highly inadequate relative to damage to infrastructure and livelihoods. This implied that the State had no other alternative but to manage recovery and reconstruction from its own limited resources, which was not fair. Therefore, he impressed upon Prime Minister that the reconstruction of damaged public infrastructure should also be brought into the SDRF/ NDRF norms so that adequate resources can be provided to the State for recovery and reconstruction.

Chief Minister brought to the notice of Prime Minister that Odisha produced about one-fifth of the total coal produced in the country. The State was bearing the brunt of adverse effects of coal mining such as environmental pollution, displacement of mining affected population and strain on water resources and infrastructure.

Chief Minister raised the issue of non-revision of royalty on coal which was last revised on 10th May, 2012. The additional revenue generated by Royalty revision will immensely help the State to accelerate development works. Chief Minister, therefore, urged upon Prime Minister to revise the royalty on coal from 14% to 20% of the sale value. Prime Minister assured to look into the issues raised by Chief Minister.

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Odisha Story Bureau
A team of young journalists headed by Subhransu Panda, founder-editor of Odisha's leading news portal and magazine Odisha Story. Mail: editor@odishastory.com