Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday made a strong pitch for grant of extra central assistance to the densely-populated, landlocked state citing the progress it has been making with the help of its own limited resources.
Making a presentation before the 15th Finance Commission headed by Chairman N K Singh, Mr Kumar also expressed disapproval of the doing away with the distinction between general and special category states while recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission were in force.
"The removal of such a distinction is a paradox which the 15th Finance Commission should look into", Mr Kumar was quoted as saying in an official release.
Mr Kumar also demanded greater central assistance to the state for disaster management, underscoring that Bihar is ravaged by floods annually on account of rivers originating in the neighbouring country of Nepal and states like Madhya Pradesh and Nepal.
"Seventy per cent of the state's area gets affected by floods. In 2017, the state had to spend Rs 2,400 crore in providing relief to the affected families. The central help was of only Rs 500 crore. It needs to be increased", he said.
He also expressed displeasure over states having to make contributions towards centrally sponsored schemes and requested for funds to meet development needs like schools and infrastructure for Panchayati Raj institutions.
Observing that forest cover was being taken into account during allocation of funds by the centre, the Chief Minister pointed out "we had set up a Hariyali Mission to increase the forest cover in Bihar which has risen to 15 per cent from the mere seven per cent in 2000 when Jharkhand was carved out".
The Chief Minister was interacting with the Commission in presence of Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi - who holds the finance portfolio - and top officials like Chief Secretary Deepak Kumar and Principal Secretary, Finance, Sujata Chaturvedi.
On the final day of its tour of the state, the Commission also held interactions with representatives of various political parties which was attended, among others, by state assembly Speaker Vijay Kumar Chowdhury and RJD leader and former state finance minister Abdul Bari Siddiqui.
The Commission was also presented with a joint memorandum of political parties and academic/ professional organisations drafted by city-based think tank Asian Development Research Organization (ADRI).
The memorandum, among other things, suggested a new formula for devolution of funds which could "help Bihar and other backward states to overcome the development backlog and contribute to the overall prosperity of India".
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