Bhubaneswar, May 22: In a major setback to Naveen Patnaik government as well as the ruling BJD, the Planning Commission has made it clear that Odisha does not qualify for the grant of Special Category Status.
"You will appreciate that under the existing criteria for approval by the National Development Council, Odisha does not qualify for grant of Special Category Status," Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said in a letter to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
Ahluwalia's communication came in response to Patnaik's letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the matter of special category state status for Odisha written on November 24, 2011.
Planning Commission's letter rejecting Odisha's demand of special category state status came at a time when ruling BJD had launched an agitation and initiated signature campaign to fulfill its long standing demand.
The state assembly had also passed an unanimous resolution supporting the state government's demand of special category status for Odisha.
Describing Odisha's finance as stable and viable with sound indicators of fiscal deficit, outstanding liabilities and interest payments to total revenue receipt, Ahluwalia said, "The balance of current revenue (BCR) is also positive which contributes to plan resources. Thus this (non-viable nature of state finance) criterion is not satisfied."
Ahluwalia in the letter mentioned that there were five features required for a state to get the status of Special Category State Status. They were -- Hilly and difficult terrain, low population density and /or sizable share of tribal population, strategic location along borders with neighbouring countries, economic and infrastructural backwardness and non-viable nature of state finances.
In response to the Odisha government's request for special category status, the Planning Commission deputy chairman said that it has been examined with regard to existing criteria.