Bhubaneswar, Apr 1: After Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, his Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik stepped up the demand for special category status for the state today saying it was a 'genuine right'.
"No one can ignore Odisha's demand. It deserves special category status. It is a genuine right," Patnaik said addressing the state-level celebration of its 77th foundation day. Asserting that Odisha fulfilled all the criteria to be accorded the special category status, he said all required parameters except the one on international border was met by the state. "Odisha's development can be faster if it is accorded special category status," the Chief Minister said.
Claiming that none can stop Odisha from achieving the special category status, he said "we do not want anybody's mercy but fulfilment of our genuine demand." The state government was contributing to the national exchequer by way of royalty from mines, earning from railways and other taxes. "While we contribute a lot to the Centre, the state gets minimal help from it under the federal structure," Patnaik said.
The state, he claimed, had progressed in all spheres. Besides ensuring a 'strong' food security, it has recorded satisfactory growth in literacy and higher education, check drop-out rates, reduction in poverty and above all economic activities.
A series of cultural extravaganzas was held, including a laser show on contributions and sacrifices made by eminent leaders for the formation of a separate Odisha state under British rule on linguistic basis on April 1, 1936, besides a host of other programmes.