Citing the financial burden the state government has to bear to recuperate from frequent natural disasters, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on January 18 appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to accord the special category status to his state.
In a letter, Patnaik said that the "geo-climatic conditions of Odisha make it vulnerable to multiple and recurring natural disasters," and said the state faces a "long term task of recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation that require huge resources" due to the destruction caused by the cyclonic storm 'Titli' in October 2018.
"More than 80 per cent of the geographical area and nearly 90 per cent of the population of our State are vulnerable to one or more disasters. Odisha has been affected by about 35 per cent of all the cyclonic and severe cyclonic storms that have crossed the eastern coast of India. With the current trend of the climatic change, the coastal areas of Odisha are likely to be more vulnerable to extreme climatic events and severe cyclonic disturbances," Patnaik said in the letter.
Cyclone Titli made landfall in Odisha in October last year and caused extensive damage to standing crops and plantations, thereby affecting the farmers in the state. Trees and thatched houses were uprooted owing to the gusty winds. The calamity claimed 77 lives.
The cyclonic storm caused flood and landslides that had severely affected about 60.31 lakh people in 128 blocks under 17 districts of Odisha.
Patnaik stated that the "reconstruction of damaged public infrastructure falls outside the ambit of SDRF and NDRF norms with a few exceptions" adding that the SDRF "takes care of only immediate relief and restoration".
He further said that "additional assistance from NDRF provided in case of a calamity of a severe nature is highly inadequate relative to damage to infrastructure and livelihoods".
The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) president said that despite all challenges, his state has made noteworthy progress in the sphere of socio-economic development. He said that the GDP of the state has increased around 50 per cent in the past six years and that poverty has declined by 24.61 per cent from 2004-05 to 2011-12.
"Our pace of transformation has been remarkable and our growth has been inclusive. However, successive Central Government have neglected Odisha. It is in this premise of historical Central neglect and frequent natural calamities that my government has been demanding Special Category Status for Odisha which will supplement our efforts in transforming the State," Patnaik wrote.