CM Naveen Patnaik seeks financial autonomy for Odisha

Bhubaneswar: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday demanded financial autonomy for Odisha as he attacked the Central government for failing to carry out development work in the state.

The Chief Minister said the state will not need special category status or central grants if financial autonomy is given.

“Odisha wants financial autonomy so that the state will develop with its own money,” said Patnaik while addressing the 21st Foundation Day of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) at the party headquarters here.

Patnaik targeted the Narendra Modi government by taking up several issues including the National Highway project, railways, coal royalty revision, banking network, minimum support price for paddy, special category tag, 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament and assemblies and SC/ST development.

On rail projects, he said the state has allocated land for the Khordha-Bolangir railway line and sanctioned half of the project cost, but the project has not made any progress yet.

Criticising the BSNL mobile network in Odisha, Patnaik said people have to go to treetops or rooftops of buildings to get the mobile network in the state.

The Chief Minister, who had welcomed the demonetisation move by the Central government, said the people were made to stand in long queues at banks following the decision.

On the other hand, Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan launched a scathing attack on Naveen Patnaik and the BJD government.

“The Chief Minister talking of 33 per cent reservation for women must clarify how many women ministers are there in his cabinet. At a time when victims of Kunduli and Gumudumaha were deprived of justice, the Chief Minister is shedding crocodile tears,” said Pradhan at a Bharatiya Janata Party convention here.

Linking chit fund scam accused Saroj Sahu to Naveen Patnaik, Dharmendra asked the Chief Minister to clarify what this man was doing at Naveen Niwas and how he is linked to him.

“People of Odisha want answers from you as you have been ruling the state for over 18 years,” said Pradhan.

With the BJD celebrating its Foundation Day, the Congress on Wednesday observed a black day across the state.

“Nearly 85 lakh youth are unemployed in the state. While the loan burden on the state was Rs 18,000 crore in 2000, it has touched Rs 93,000 crore today, 65 per cent people are still below poverty line and farmers are committing suicide. If Naveen Patnaik thinks this is development, I have nothing to say,” said Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president Niranjan Patnaik.