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Odisha CM meets Naidu, demands more funds, flexibility in JnNURM

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
New Delhi, June 3:

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today urged the Union minister for Urban Development Venkaiah Naidu to provide greater autonomy to the states to identify appropriate projects for different cities under the ongoing Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JnNURM), which, in its present form denies such freedom to the states and is ‘biased’ against urban Infrastructure in  small and medium towns, a release from the Odisha Resident Commissioner’s office in New Delhi said.

The chief minister reportedly stated that major benefits under JnNURM accrue to states with large cities which have a greater capacity to absorb funds and not to states with smaller cities like Odisha. He suggested that JnNURM should be made state specific with complete freedom to the states to identify and implement feasible urban projects.

Naveen Patnaik with Union minister Naidu (PIB)
Naveen Patnaik with Union minister Naidu (PIB)

“The basic entitlement of each state could be worked out based on different parameters such as urban population and performance grants linked to urban reforms. The additional Central assistance linked to reforms under JnNURM may be modified to make it uniform 10% in case of both the components of Urban Infrastructure Governance (UIG) and Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small & Medium Towns (UIDSSMT),” Patnaik is reported to have said during his meeting with Naidu.

The chief minister also informed the Union minister that there are pending claims amounting to Rs.104 crore under UIG and Rs.39 crore under UIDSSMT which may be released at the earliest.

He also sought early release of first instalment of additional Central assistance amounting to one-third of Rs.460 crore for enabling the state to undertake Bus Rapid Transit System in Bhubaneswar.

The chief minister drew the attention of the Union Minister to the pending proposals of the state including Water Supply projects for Berhampur Phase-II, Storm Water Drainage project for Jajpur Town and City Bus Service for Rourkela-Biramitrapur and Bolangir-Patnagarh under JnNURM and requested for early sanction of the said projects.

He also mentioned that only six cities of Odisha are covered under the Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) and impressed upon the Union Minister to sanction additional 35 cities/towns under RAY.

Further, highlighting that the National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM) covers only 33 Urban Local Bodies in the state, the chief minister requested the inclusion of the remaining 73 Urban Local Bodies under NULM.

The Union Minister was also requested to amend NULM guidelines by providing for a Community Organizer for 2000 BPL households- in place of the existing norm of one Community Organizer for 3000 BPL households- for more effective monitoring of urban poverty alleviation programmes.

The official release claimed that the Union Minister has assured the chief minister that all pending projects and claims shall be processed at the earliest.

The Union minister reportedly assured that the issues will be given priority and efforts will be made to modify the guidelines of JnNURM and NULM to ensure greater decentralisation and equitable distribution of resources amongst different states.

Earlier on Monday Chief Minister Patnaik and 24 MPs of his party had met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and raised issues of special category state status for Odisha, revision of royalties on minerals and several other demands of the state.

Patnaik had termed his talks with the Prime Minister as ‘positive’.

Patnaik had also met Union Finance minister Arun Jaitley and had raised issues like considering reversion of CST rate to 4% from the current 2% till the implementation of Goods and Services Tax, as the state was suffering revenue loss and the Centre has failed to compensate it as promised.