Nitish meets PM, seeks cooperation in his development efforts

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New Delhi, Feb 2 (PTI) Bihar Chief Minister NitishKumar today met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking theCentre''s cooperation in his development efforts and raised theproblem of drought in the state.

In a seventeen point memorandum submitted to the PrimeMinister, Kumar sought special category status for Bihar, morefunds for the state, coal linkage to power projects andexpeditious setting up of Nalanda International University.

Kumar also demanded re-imbursement of a sum of Rs 970crore spent by the state government over maintenance ofnational highways.

In a letter to Deputy Chairman of Planning CommissionMontek Singh Ahluwalia, Kumar thanked him for the additionalallotment of Rs 1000 crore under the Bihar Special Plan for2010-2011.

Kumar, who came here to attend the Chief Ministers''Conference on internal security yesterday, will also meetFinance Minister Pranab Mukheree and Nepal President Ram BaranYadav tomorrow.

In his letter to the Prime Minister, Kumar also askedfor Presidential assent to the Bihar Sugarcane (Purchase andSupply) Regulation Act 1981 and withdrawing the Sugarcane(Control) Order permitting only existing sugar factories toprovide ethanol directly from sugar cane juice.

Addressing a press conference here, Kumar said thatthe Centre''s non cooperation on coal linkage and ethanol issueis preventing major investments from coming to the state.

In his letter, the Bihar Chief Minister sought"favourable consideration" of the Centre on these issues andurged the Prime Minister to consider constituting a SpecialTask Force under the latter''s Principal Secretary to monitorimplementation and keep him informed on the progress on thesedemands.

Seeking central assistance for drought, Kumar saidonly a sum of Rs 341.08 crore has been released to the stateof Rs 1459.54 crore sanctioned against the demand of Rs6573.45 crore sought by the state and requested him tosanction and release the remaining funds immediately. He alsoinvited the Prime Minister to visit Bihar.

Kumar said the state should be given special categorystate to attract investment and asked for an appointment fromthe Prime Minister so that an all party delegation can come tosubmit him a memorandum on this issue.

He also said there is a need to reverse the "downwardtrend" of gross budgetary support for states.

In a separate letter addressed to Finance MinisterPranab Mukherjee, Kumar reiterated the demand for declaringBihar a special category state and expressed concern over"dwindling share of Bihar in the 13th Finance Commissiongrants".

He demanded an independent commission to identify BPLfamilies and revision in allocation of Bihar in PublicDistribution System and other social sector schemes.

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