Sensing that his long-standing demand for Special Category State status to Odisha has repeatedly been rejected, the Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik suggested states hit by major natural calamities be declared as “Special Focus States” with benefits as per the Special Category Status.

While iterating this demand at the Governing Council meeting of Niti Ayog on Saturday in Delhi, the CM also wanted PM-KISAN programme to include all landless agriculture households and sharecroppers.

Patnaik strongly contended that all irrigation projects lying incomplete as on 1 April 2019 be included under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY).

He referred to the lack of railway connectivity and unbanked areas of Odisha.

Railway projects need to be expedited to extend rail connectivity to Kandhamal, Nawarangpur and Malkangiri districts of the state, he said. Raising another long pending issue, he said royalty on coal should be revised from 14% to 20% of the sale value. The revision is long overdue, he said.

According to the release issued by the CMO here, the CM said the centre should allocate a much higher quantum of resources for watershed, command area development and drinking water. There should be a priority component under PMGSY-III to connect habitations with a population of 100 and below, he submitted.

The CM spoke on women empowerment and simultaneous elections. He highlighted the devastation caused by Cyclone Fani and the reconstruction work that is going on in the state.

The CM underlined the fact that Odisha has marched ahead and transformed itself from a poverty-stricken state to one which registered the highest reduction of poverty. It is a rice surplus state and has set global standards in disaster management, he stated.