New Delhi:The 12th meeting Standing Committee of the Inter-State Council Odisha, held here on Saturday under the chairmanship of union home minister Rajnath Singh, deliberated on Volumes III,IV and V of the Punchhi Commission recommendations encompassing variety of subjects from centre-state financial relations, local self governance and internal security and criminal justice issues affecting the states. The Committee had deliberated on Volumes I & II in the its 11h meeting held on April, 2017.
The union finance minister, Arun Jaitley, union minister for law and justice, union minister for social justice and empowerment and chief ministers of Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Tirpural participated in the meeting.
The Odisha chief minister, Naveen Patnaik, expressed concern that though the recommendations of the Puchhi Commission on inter-state relations were received in 2010, these have not been implemented so far. He impressed upon the chairman and participants of the Standing Committee to accept the recommendations early after factoring in the responses of the states to strengthen the federal fabric of our nation.
He stated that the Punchhi Commission has recommended for higher Central transfer for backward states for improving their physical and human infrastructure and stressed that Odisha should have the same sharing pattern in Centrally Sponsored Schemes at par with North-Eastern and Himalayan states as the state has high percentage of people below poverty line and belonging to ST and SC.
Patnaik informed the meeting that Odisha has already sent a consolidated response on all the 239 recommendations of the Punchhi Commission contained in seven volumes.
Chief minister underlined some of the more important concerns currently affecting the state and urged upon the Standing Committee to take urgent action on these issues along with the Commission’s recommendations. He stated that low telecom connectivity and poor financial inclusion remain major concerns of Odisha. He added that 70 per cent of Odisha’s Gram Panchayats do not have any bank presence and only 221 branches have been opened in last three years. He emphasised that the goal of digital payment may not be realised unless there is an appreciable improvement of connectivity in Odisha.
Odisha should be given flexibility to operate all the Centrally Sponsored Schemes directly through Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) instead of opening separate scheme-based bank accounts since the state has a robust Integrated Financial Management System which is fully integrated with Public Financial Management System (PFMS).
Expressing serious concern that the flow in the river Mahanadi in the downstream state of Odisha has dipped alarmingly on account of unilateral action of construction activities undertaken by Chhattishgarh state, he urged upon the Standing Committee to take urgent action to stop this unilateral construction in Chhattisgarh and constitute a Tribunal without further delay to address the problem. He also urged to discontinue Polavaram project in Andhra Pradesh as it will impact a large number of people in hinterland tribal district of Malkangiri adversely.
Stating that the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for paddy fixed by government of India at Rs.1470 per quintal is not commensurate with the rising cost of inputs and the non-remunerative MSP acts as a deterrent to doubling farmers’ income, Patnaik urged upon the Standing Committee to take up the matter with the union ministry of agriculture and farmers welfare and consider the proposal of Odisha government to fix the MSP of common paddy at Rs.2930 per quintal in the interest of farmers of the state.
He highlighted that the Left Wing Extremism(LWE) poses the biggest threat to the internal security and impressed upon the Committee to ensure equitable distribution and deployment of Central Forces, funds and logistic support and not insist upon reimbursement of the cost of deployment of Central Forces in the LWE affected states. He impressed upon the Chairman to deploy at least two Battalions of CAPF in Odisha at the earliest to address asymmetric deployment of CAPF along the border vis-a-vis Chhattisgarh state.
He mentioned that the royalty on coal which was due for revision in April, 2015 should be revised upwards at the earliest. In addition, he mentioned that at least 60 per cent of the clean environment cess should be earmarked for the coal bearing states which have to bear the cost of environmental degeneration and rehabilitation.