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Sushil Modi reiterates special status demand for Bihar

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Bihar Deputy Chief Minister said on Saturday there should be special treatment of poor states developing fast within the general category. For long, Bihar has been demanding it be put in the special category which gets special treatment by the Centre, like the Northeastern states and the hill states of the North. On Saturday’s demand added a new spin to the tussle for funds between Bihar, ruled by the Janata Dal (United) and the Bharatiya Janata Party, and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre.

Modi was speaking at Samriddhi, the annual conclave of government, business and academia organised by Business Standard Hindi, in Patna. “Bihar has been put in the general category, along with Gujarat and Maharashtra, which is not right,” he said, adding: “There should be a sub-category for fast-developing poor states like Bihar.”

He said Bihar fulfilled all the conditions for the special treatment and the ball was now in New Delhi’s court. However, he said there was total “policy paralysis” at the Centre. “There is no internal coordination (between the various partners of the UPA). The situation is worsening,” he said. But he ruled out the possibility of early general elections, “though you can never tell which small incident may lead to mid-term elections”.

On the power situation in Bihar, he said the state would get 600 Mw in the next two years from the second phase of the upcoming project at Barh. Power purchase agreements have also been signed with (for its 1,320-Mw project in Jharkhand) and the 4,000-Mw ultra-mega power project to be put up by at Tilaiya (also in Jharkhand). Modi said the state electricity board had paid Rs 3,129 crore to NTPC in the last three years ever since the state-owned power producer started using imported coal. “Of this, Rs 1,353 crore has been paid in this financial year till January,” he said. “This has worsened the situation. No state electricity board in the country, except in Gujarat, is in surplus.”

Private investment of over Rs 1,500 crore has already been made in two highways, while bidding has been completed for a third one and there is huge private sector interest in a fourth.

Detailing the slide in Bihar’s economy since Independence, Modi said the state’s per capita income was 68 per cent of the national per capita income in 1951 and 69 per cent in 1961, but fell to 44.6 per cent in 1971 and 36 per cent in 2001. In 2011, it improved slightly to 37 per cent. “The gap is huge but we are trying hard to grow fast,” he said.

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