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Seemandhra can’t be accorded special category status: Plan panel

LiveMint logoLiveMint 13-06-2014 PTI

New Delhi: The residual Andhra Pradesh, commonly known as Seemandhra, can’t be accorded the status of a special category state to facilitate extra central aid under the current norms, the Planning Commission has said.

“Andhra Pradesh (Seemandhra) does not meet the National Development Council criteria (for special category state),” the Commission said in its presentation to planning minister Inderjit Singh Rao.

This point is significant because the Union cabinet headed by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 2 March had directed the Commission to accord special category status to successor of Andhra Pradesh (Seemandhra) for five years.

Singh had even announced in the Rajya Sabha on 21 February that special category status would be extended to Seemandhra for five years.

Andhra Pradesh has been recently bifurcated into two states—Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

There are demands for according special category status (SCS) from states including Bihar, Rajasthan, Odisha and Jharkhand.

In case of Bihar, an inter ministerial group has said that the state is not eligible to get SCS based on existing criteria. However, the government is yet to take a decision on Bihar’s demand.

The Commission, however, has intimated to Rajasthan, Odisha and Jharkhand that they are eligible for getting SCS as per the criteria.

About according SCS to Seemandhra, the Commission pointed out to the minister that any such proposal would have to be endorsed by NDC, the country’s apex planning body, which is headed by the Prime Minister, with cabinet ministers and all chief ministers on its board.

As per the Gadgil-Mukherjee formula for devolution of central assistance for state plans, 30% of the total funds is earmarked for special category states.

As against the composition of central assistance of 30% grant and 70% loan for major states, special category states receive 90% plan assistance as grant and just 10% as loan.

The special category status to various states is accorded by NDC based on consideration of a set criteria, including hilly and difficult terrain; low population density and or sizeable share of tribal population; strategic location along borders with neighbouring countries; economic and infrastructure backwardness and non-viable nature of state finances.

Currently, the existing 11 special category status states are Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Uttarakhand, Nagaland, Tripura, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Sikkim.

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