Promising that the Centre will go “all out” to support Bihar in a “big way”, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said the government is likely to announce projects and schemes in a few weeks time to assist the resource-rich state.
“Bihar is a state with a lot of potential. It is a state which has very less industry. It has (a lot of) human resource. It has agriculture. Therefore for an equitable development of the country, Bihar needs to be supported,” Jaitley told reporters at the Stanford University here after delivering his remarks on ‘India’s Economic Future’.
“And therefore Government of India will go all out to support Bihar in a big way,” he said.
Responding to a question from an Indian-American, Ramesh Yadav, Jaitley said the central government is working on various schemes and projects for holistic development of the state.
Jaitley ruled this out as a pre-election package and stressed that this is not being done with an eye on state elections.
“Why do not you wait for a few weeks,” he said when asked to explain the government’s “all out” support for Bihar.
Jaitley’s remarks on Bihar were not part of his presentation, in which he spent a significant amount of time on states.
“Why your government has not planned for Bihar?” elderly Yadav asked, to which Jaitley responded, “Bihar has two great resources. One is water, as a result of which its agriculture is quite good. Second is human resources. Bihar has a huge human resource. In fact the first generation of expatriates who went to a lot of countries were from Bihar.”
Noting that in the last two decades Bihar has suffered a setback, Jaitley said a large number of people have left the state for other parts of the country for education and jobs.
“We are working on assisting Bihar. If you wait for literally a few weeks you may hear something from the central government with regard to Bihar,” Jaitley said without elaborating.
“Bihar needs infrastructure. It needs roads. It has two airports Bodh Gaya and Patna. Both of them are in terrible situation. It has not been able to exploit its tourism, including its religious tourism. Its universities need to be propped up a lot. Therefore the Central government is currently working (on projects and programmes to assist Bihar),” he said. “One of our policies has been when we support a state, we do not look from the point of view who rules the state. The fact is that if a state, which requires a certain amount of support, we must give it. For instance, Odisha and West Bengal they benefited from the policy of handing over the coal money to state itself. I think, it is good that these states in the eastern region required to be supported,” Jaitley said.
“The Prime Minister has repeatedly said that states in the eastern part of India are relatively less developed. Therefore they must get a better share of support from all of us,” he said.
Working with various ministries, Jaitley said he has developed a few ideas for Bihar and they are currently being circulated within the government.