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CM protests barrages on Mahanadi, national status to Polavarm

-- Asks Centre to restore Central aid for special plan KBK, BRGF, IAP
Bhubaneswar, July 16: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to allow any upper-catchment projects in Mahanadi basin as planned by the Chhattisgarh Government to safeguard the interests of millions of farmers in Odisha.

He also drew the attention of the PM to the fact of Centre declaring Polavaram project as a national project despite its serious consequences on the livelihood of a large number of tribal families in Odisha and repeated requests of the State to the contrary.

Speaking at the inter-State Council meeting presided over by Modi at the Rastrapati Bhavan in New Delhi. Chief Minister of almost all the States who are members of the Council also participated in the meeting.

“My Government has opposed any move with regard to upper catchment projects in Mahanadi basin without consulting our State. Mahanadi is the lifeline of Odisha and it contributes maximum irrigation in our State,” said the Chief Minister.

Maintaining that lives and livelihood of the farmers of fifteen districts- Bargarh, Jharsuguda, Sambalpur, Sundergarh, Bolangir, Sonepur, Boudh, Angul, Cuttack, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Jajpur, Puri, Nayagarh and Khurda are fully dependent on Mahanadi, Patnaik urged the PM to take note of these facts and not allow any upper catchment projects in Mahanadi Basin without consulting our State and help in safeguarding the interests of millions of farmers of our State for whom Mahanadi river system is the lifeline.

“In fact, River Mahanadi has a direct impact on more than 50% of our population and indirectly through subsidiaries the Mahanadi System has an impact on around 65% of the population of our State. From time immemorial the people of Odisha have an emotional, cultural and organic relationship with the Holy Mahanadi river,” said the Chief Minister.

The Chief Minister said the inter-State Council should meet regularly at shorter intervals to deliberate on critical issues concerning Centre-State relations.

Patnaik stated that the recommendations of the Punchhi Commission on Centre-State relations have been duly considered by Odisha and the views of the State were furnished to the Central Government in April 2015.

He underlined the need to improve bank coverage in the uncovered gram panchayats of the State in a time-bound manner and to expedite the rollout of Bharatnet project to provide broadband connectivity up to gram panchayat level.

Stating that the Leftwing extremism poses the biggest threat to the internal security of the State, he urged the Centre to ensure a balanced and equitable deployment of Central forces among the concerned States in order to prevent cross-border spillage of the Maoists. He also asked the Centre to restore the earlier funding pattern under the modernisation programme of police force.

He reiterated the State’s demand to raise the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy to Rs.2500 per quintal. He said an increased MSP would mitigate the sufferings of farmers.

Patnaik stated that the discontinuance of Central assistance for the Special Plan for KBK, Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF) and Integrated Action Plan (IAP) is severely impacting the most vulnerable population and the backward regions of Odisha and urged upon the Prime Minister to restore Central assistance for these programmes.

Further, highlighting that Odisha continues to suffer from historical neglect in both road and rail communication, the CM stated that the Railways should now expedite project implementation of long-pending projects as Odisha has proactively come forward to participate financially in these projects.

He reiterated his request that the Centre should share at least 60 per cent of the collected cess with the coal-bearing States.

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