**Bhubaneswar: ** Requesting personal intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday (April 13) demanded that population data of 1971 Census instead of 2011 Census should be used by the 15th Finance Commission while making its recommendations.
In his letter to the Prime Minister, the Odisha Chief Minister mentions, “The Presidential order dated 27th November, 2017 on constitution and Terms of Reference of the 15th Finance Commission has made significant departures from the Terms of Reference of previous Finance Commission, which may have adverse impact on horizontal devolution for Odisha as well as vertical devolution for States. Our main suggestions during the consultations prior to the notification of the Terms of Reference appear to have been ignored.”
The letter argues, “Population criterion is a very important factor in determination of share of a State in the divisible pool. In order to encourage the States to stabilize population, successive National Population Policy Statements have taken 1971 Census population level as the basis for devolution, Grant-in-aid as well as other incentives. Even the number of representatives in the Lok Sabha (on the basis of population) have been frozen at 1971 Census level through successive Constitutional amendments, the last being the 84th Constitutional amendment whereby the freeze was extended until 2026.”
“In this context, the Terms of Reference for 15th Finance Commission asking the use of 2011 Census data is contrary to National Population Policy Statements and the assurances to States which have actively implemented population stabilization measures. It will have a huge adverse impact on our share in devolution as Odisha is already below the Population Replacement Rate of 2.1 indicating that we have stabilized our population. We demand that population data of 1971 Census should be used by the 15th Finance Commission while making its recommendations,” the Odisha CM further argues in his letter to justify the State Government’s stand.
The Odisha CM also argues, “In many of the performance based incentives indicated in the Terms of Reference, it may not be possible to have measurable indicators. Besides, there is no incentive for the States which have achieved the replacement rate of population growth. On the contrary, they will lose out as the population data of 2011 Census will be used by the Commission unless the Terms of Reference are suitably amended.”
The letter to the PM also mentions, “Odisha has been demanding Special Category Status for a long time. We have made relentless efforts to reduce poverty and improve human development indicators such as literacy, infant mortality, maternal mortality, nutrition, health, drinking water and other social infrastructure in our State. However, our State has a high percentage of population belonging to Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Castes. Central schemes such as Special Plan for KBK, IAP for LWE affected districts, Backward Region Grant Fund have been discontinued. Our repeated requests for allowing our State to avail sharing pattern in the Centrally Sponsored Schemes at par with North-Eastern and Himalayan States have also not been accepted. This issue needs urgent consideration.”
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