10 April, New Delhi
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik raised the Polavaram and Mahanadi issues at the Inter-State Council (ISC) standing committee meeting held in the national capital on Sunday.
Accusing the central government of not adopting principles of fair play in declaring Polavaram as a national project and in assigning the task of taking decisions on contentious issues between the two states to a project functionary, he urged it to discontinue the project and set up a Tribunal at the earliest to resolve the Mahanadi water dispute.
He also urged that all ongoing construction activities in Mahanadi basin in Chhattisgarh be stopped to protect the livelihood of the people of Odisha.
Patnaik said Odisha fully supports the recommendations of the Punchhi Commission aimed at strengthening the autonomy of the states.
“Odisha supports Punchhi Commission’s recommendation for defining the role of Governors and other aspects. Odisha deserves the same sharing pattern of funds as per the northeastern and Himalayan states on the account of high percentage of population below the poverty line,” he said.
The Chief Minister also demanded that 60 percent of clean environment cess be earmarked for coal-bearing states.
He also expressed concern at the central government’s demand on the Left-Wing Extremism affected states for reimbursing the cost of deployment of central paramilitary forces, noting Maoism is a national challenge and is one of the biggest internal security threats faced by the nation and the demand made to the states is totally unjustified.
The Chief Minister urged the central government to ensure equitable distribution of funds, logistic support and deployment of central forces and to bear the expenditure on their deployment.
He also highlighted that low telecom connectivity including lower bandwidth, low financial inclusion and lower bank credit, continue to remain major concerns of Odisha.
Patnaik noted that 28 per cent of the villages in Odisha do not have any mobile coverage, while 70 per cent of gram panchayats do not have any bank branch and the credit-GSDP ratio at 24.75 per cent is abysmally low.