Bihar aims for 13 percent growth, pushes for special category status
New Delhi, Dec 27 (IANS) Aiming to achieve a 13 percent growth rate in the 12th Plan (2012-17), Bihar Thursday pushed for being granted special category status that would enable it to get more central funds and also voiced unhappiness at the additional financial burden for implementing the Right to Education Act in the state.
Addressing the 57th meeting of the National Development Council (NDC) here, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, heading a Janata Dal-United-Bharatiya Janata Party coalition government, said economic growth in his state has been "showing steady growth trend".
In the 11th plan, Bihar pegged a growth rate of 12.11 percent against the national average of 7.94 percent. Bihar's per capita income grew at 10.47 percent against 6.46 percent for the India at constant prices, he said.
However, the chief minister said despite the "exemplary growth rate" in order to reach the national average of per capita income, Bihar would have to "wait for 25-30 years" and requested for special attention to the state to bridge the "wide divergence".
He also remarked that he was "pained to see that gross budgetary support to states has been continuously declining" and said it was "contrary to the federal structure of our economy". He urged that the gross budgetary support to states be raised to at least 50 percent.
Pushing for special category status to Bihar, Nitish Kumar said the inter-ministerial group set up by the central government to study the demand had reached "pre-ordained conclusions" and ignored its landlocked and least-developed state.
He said special status "would help in multiple ways... The centre will bear higher percentage of central share - 90 percent - of all centrally sponsored schemes".
He requested for his state to be provided an additional Rs.4,000 crore per year during the 12th Plan to be able to bridge the "still high infrastructure and development gaps" with other states.
The chief minister said the 65:35 ratio of funding between the central government and states to implement the Right to Education Act was "burdening the state with additional financial obligation" and asked for that it be given a re-look.
On implementing the RTE, he said "inspite of all our efforts, we are finding it difficult to be fully prepared for the Right to Education becoming justiciable from April 2013. We demand an amendment to give us more time considering that the resources made available even by the central government has not been commensurate with the gap".
He also urged for a review of the minimum wages under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, saying the central government wages were lower than the minimum wages fixed by Bihar and "asking the state to bear the difference", which he said, puts additional financial burden on the state.
He said there was need to bring the wages under MGNREGA on par with that of the state.