Patnaik meets PM to seek special status for Odisha

Patnaik meets PM to seek special status for OdishaNEW DELHI: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today met Prime Minister Narendra Modi here and demanded special category status for his state as well as other assistance from the Centre but remained evasive on allying with NDA.

Patnaik led a delegation of his party MPs to Modi and discussed issues related to his state and the requirement of central assistance, including in the field of railways.

After the 30-minute meeting, he said Modi was “quite positive” to the demands and hoped that the NDA government would treat Odisha better than the previous UPA regime.

During his first meeting with the Prime Minister, Patnaik raised the issue of granting special category status to Odisha and scrapping of the controversial Polavaram project situated on the border between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

Odisha fears the project would submerge 130-odd villages in the Malkangiri district and lakhs of hectors of land.

The Chief Minister urged Modi to “recognize the genuine concern of Odisha on submergence and flooding of Malkangiri and to halt the Palavaram project”. Patnaik said the state government has already taken the matter to the Supreme Court.

After the meeting, he said he hoped he would get a positive response from the Prime Minister to the demands.

“I certainly hope. The Prime Minister was quite positive to our demands,” he said when asked if Odisha will get a better treatment from the Modi government in comparison to the previous UPA government.

Some party MPs quoted the PM as having said to Patnaik that “India can only grow if states grow”.

Asked whether his party BJD would ally with NDA, Patnaik was evasive, saying he has not given a thought to it. He added that the issue did not come up during his meeting with Modi. “We will play a constructive role, a positive role as far as Central government is concerned and we do hope they respond to the just demands of Odisha,” said the Chief Minister who recently was elected for the fourth consecutive time.

He said this when asked if his party would join NDA and what would be BJD’s stand in the Rajya where the BJP-led NDA is in minority. BJD has 20 members in the new Lok Sabha and four in Rajya Sabha.

Among other things, Patnaik sought allocation of Rs 3160 crore in the railway budget for 2014-15 to his state.

He sought approval for bringing in additional five lakh BPL beneficiaries for coverage under Indira Gandhi national pension scheme and Rs 1397 crore as a special central assistance for Nabakalebar festival in Puri in 2015.

Patnaik also wanted inclusion of Kosala and Ho languages in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution.

He also demanded revising the mineral royalty rates by 15 per cent and to introduction of a mineral resource rent tax for the benefit of local areas.–PTI

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