Patna: Making a strong case for special economic status for Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, at a meeting with 15th Finance Commission Chairperson N K Singh in Patna on Wednesday, repeated his reasoning behind his demand for special status saying Bihar was the prime candidate for it and without which further economic progress was extremely difficult.
With a list of demands, Kumar laid out his concerns about Bihar saying it was a disaster-prone state and without the help of the central government, it was nearly impossible to bring substantial changes than what he had already ushered with the limited state fund that he has.
"Each year Bihar is inundated with flood caused by water being dumped in Bihar rivers by Nepal and Madhya Pradesh. Thousands of lives and crores of rupees in farm products are lost as the state spends astronomical amount of money to negate the effect of the flood. Under these circumstances, we need support from the center in disaster management fund to maintain a balance. In 2017 alone, we spent Rs. 2,400 crore in flood relief whereas the center's contribution was a mere Rs 500 crore. This has to go up", he said.
Kumar lamented the Commission's decision to scrap distinction between general and special category states while the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission were still in force.
"How could you do away with the distinction between special and general category states when the 14th Finance Commission recommendations were still in force? This must be reconsidered and changed so landlocked states like Bihar could also take advantage of special status," he said.
Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, Energy Minister Bijendra Yadav, and a number of senior bureaucrats were present on the occasion.
Speaking later at a press conference, Singh, said that it was not the job of the Finance Commission to decide who and who does not get special status.
"That is up to the government. However, the Commission is sympathetic to the demands of Bihar and we would like to see Bihar moving into the category of developed states as soon as it can. The Nitish administration has done wonders in many areas like reducing poverty and resolving energy issue but there are still many areas left where much work is needed," he said.