Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has strongly pitched for extra central assistance and special category status for the state holding that it will not be possible get trade and industry for the densely populated state without the backing. However, the 15th Finance Commission had categorically stated that it did not have the provision to recommend such special category status (SCS) to states. But it has assured that Finance Commission’s recommendations would be “sympathetic and positive” towards Bihar.
This, however, did not undermine CM Kumar’s push for a special status and his presentation was termed as “forceful and brilliant” by 15th Finance Commission Chairman N K Singh.
While emphasizing that Bihar is ravaged by floods annually on account of rivers originating in the neighbouring country of Nepal and states like Madhya Pradesh and Nepal, CM Kumar demanded greater central assistance to the state for disaster management. Kumar also sought to draw attention about the Finance Commission’s decision to do away with the distinction between general and special category states while recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission were in force. “The removal of such a distinction is a paradox which the 15th Finance Commission should look into,” Kumar was quoted as saying in an official release.
“Seventy per cent of the state’s area gets affected by floods. In 2017, the state had to spend Rs 2,400 crore in providing relief to the affected families. The central help was of only Rs 500 crore. It needs to be increased,” Kumar said.
Singh, a former JD(U) Rajya Sabha member, had earlier advocated for according SCS to Bihar but now said the matter required “a separate study by an independent entity”.
“I wish to clear the misgivings that surround the commission’s role in the grant of special category status to states. Making such a recommendation does not fall in the ambit of our constitutional mandate. No state has ever been granted special category status based on the recommendations of the Finance Commission,” Singh said, adding that currently there are demands from many states for grant of special category status, including Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. He said that the latter was promised special status upon its bifurcation by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.