At Inter-State Council Meeting, which was convened in New Delhi today by the Centre after a gap on nearly 10 years, less developed states like Bihar and Odisha strongly presented their case for higher allocations for schemes and highlighted issues concerning farmers.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar raised the problems being faced by the state with regard to newly introduced Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna. He said that the scheme entails that premium over and above the 2 per cent share of the farmer, has to be borne equally 50:50 by the Central and State Governments. “Crops in Bihar have suffered much on account of floods, drought, cyclone etc during the previous years. As a result, crop damage subsidy and diesel subsidy has been disbursed by State Government from its own resources. The tendered rates of premium offered by insurance companies for Bihar are higher than the rates quoted by them in other States,” he said.
“As a result, financial burden on the State Government on account of State share of premium will be much larger. Rates quoted by Public sector insurance companies for different States also vary a lot. For example, Agriculture Insurance Company has quoted 11 per cent premium in Bihar for Kharif 2016 whereas they have quoted 4 per cent in UP.,”added Kumar.
Bihar suggested that share of Central share should be increased to 90 per cent in States where rates of premium are higher than the national average. Such a provision will provide more assistance to States suffering from national calamities at a large scale. Simultaneously, Government of India should also take steps to ensure uniformity (as far as possible) in rates of premium quoted by Public Sector Companies in different States.
Kumar expressed concerns over reduction of central assistance to the States in Centrally Sponsored Schemes. “ It is a matter of concern for that on the basis of 14th finance-commission there has been a reduction of the share of Bihar in the total funds for States from 10.9 to 9.6 % per cent,” he said, the special needs of Bihar should also be looked into and the Prime Minister is also requested the release the remaining Rs 6395.19 crore under BRGF of Bihar during the last financial year of 2016-17 of 12th Five year plan.
About agriculture, Kumar said,“The provision of fund by the Centre for breeding green-revolution in eastern region scheme is very meager, which will not be sufficient for achieving the lofty targets. Hence to make this scheme effective, Bihar should be provided financial assistance commensurate with estimates of Agricultural Road Map.”
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said that Mahanadi is the lifeline of the State and the lives and livelihood of farmers of fifteen districts and 65% of population in Odisha are directly or indirectly impacted by the river. He impressed upon the Prime Minister not to allow any upper-catchment projects in Mahanadi Basin to safeguard the interests of millions of farmers in Odisha. Further, stating that Paddy remains the dominant crop in the State, he underlined the need to raise the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of Paddy to Rs.2500 per quintal as against the 2016 revised MSP of Rs.1470 per quintal for Common Paddy to safeguard the interests of Paddy cultivators. This, he stated, is important to mitigate the sufferings of farmers, incentivise paddy cultivation in the State and for empowering farmers financially.
The Chief Minister stated that discontinuance of Central Assistance for key Area Development Programmes like Special Plan for KBK, Backward Region Grant Fund and Integrated Action Plan are 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.
Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal focussed on the plight of the farmers of the border areas and the farmers tilling 20,500 acres of land often had to face problems in cultivating their land situated across the barbed wire fence. He said, “A permanent provision for compensation to these farmers to the tune of atleast Rs. 10,000/- per acre must be made for the hardships they were suffering.”
Addressing the Chief Ministers Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “The nation can progress only if the Union and State Governments walk shoulder to shoulder. It would be difficult for any Government to successfully implement a scheme on its own. Therefore, provision of adequate financial resources is as important as the responsibility for implementation.”
He said that the States’ share in central taxes has increased from 32 per cent to 42 per cent. “The rights of States have been kept in mind, even in revenue received from the auction of natural resources, Auctions of coal blocks will yield 3.35 lakh crore rupees to States in the years to come. Auctions of other mines will yield an additional 18,000 crore rupees to states. Similarly, through amendments to CAMPA Act, we are attempting to free up about 40,000 crore rupees lying idle in banks, for disbursal to States, “ the Prime Minister assured.