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Odisha Does Not Qualify For Spl Category Status

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In a major setback to the Naveen Patnaik government, the Planning Commission has made it clear that Odisha does not qualify for the grant of Special Category Status, triggering a war of words between the ruling BJD and the Congress.

"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 Patnaik.

Ahluwalia described the state's finances as stable and viable with sound indicators of fiscal deficit, outstanding liabilities and interest payments to total revenue receipt.

"The balance of current revenue is also positive which contributes to plan resources. Thus this (non-viable nature of state finance) criterion is not satisfied," he said.

The Planning Commission deputy chairman said the state's demand has been examined with regard to existing criteria. "Odisha does not satisfy the criterion of hilly and difficult terrain although forests in some areas do pose some difficulties," he said.

Pointing out that the proportion of tribal population in the state was relatively high compared to general category states, but lower than several special category states, he said, "The criterion of strategic location along international borders is not satisfied."

In infrastructure, Odisha's status was less than the national average in terms of irrigation potential created and railway route per 100 square kilometre, but in terms of National Highway density, other roads and power infrastructure, Odisha's potential was satisfactory, he said.