Bhubaneswar: Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik Friday joined his counterparts in Southern states in protesting against the Terms of Reference (ToR) stipulated by the Centre in the 15th Finance Commission for devolution of funds to states

Patnaik, in letter written to prime minister Narendra Modi, has said that the ToR of the 15th FC will adversely affect the states like Odisha.

Finance ministers of three Southern states- Kerela, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh– and union territory Puducheeri met on April 10 at Thiruvananthapuram to protest against the ToR given to the Finance Commission.

Patnaik in his letter has stated , “The Presidential order dated 27th November, 2017 on constitution and Terms of Reference of the 15th Finance Commission has made significant departures from the ToR of previous Finance Commissions, which may have adverse impact on horizontal devolution for Odisha as well as vertical devolution for States.”

He alleged that Odisha’s suggestions during the consultations prior to the notification of the ToR appear to have been ignored.

The CM tried to bring several issues into notice of Modi on amending the ToR in 15th Finance Commission.

“On vertical devolution, the ToR seek to put fetters on the permit of the Commission. Instead of giving the freedom to the Commission to arrive at its recommendations on resource sharing between the Centre and states based on the respective needs and after due consultations, there are leading suggestions in the ToR indicating the overriding priorities and concerns of the union Government,” he pointed out.

“On horizontal devolution, the ToR make a radical departure by mandating the Commission to use population data of 2011 while making its recommendations,” he said.

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 basis of the population) has been frozen at 1971 Census level through successive Constitutional amendments, the last being the 84th Constitutional amendment whereby the freeze was extended until 2026.

Patnaik said that the ToR in the 15th Finance Commission asking the use of 2011 Census data is contrary to National Population Policy Statements and the assurances to States that 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 stablised our population,” the CM wrote in the letter.

Patnaik demanded that the population data of 1971 Census should be used by the 15th Finance Commission while making its recommendations.

Notably, Odisha has been demanding the Centre for the special category status for a long time. The state government has made relentless efforts to reduce poverty and improve human development indicators such as literacy, infant mortality rate, maternal mortality rate, nutrition, health, drinking water and other social infrastructure.

Patnaik said that the state has a high percentage of population belonging to Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes. However, the physical and social infrastructure in a large number of the districts has been inadequate.

He raised the discontinuation of central schemes such as special plan for KBK, IAP for LWE affected districts, and Backward Regions Grant Fund.

He alleged the Centre of not accepting Odisha’s repeated requests for allowing it to avail sharing pattern in the centrally sponsored schemes at par with North-east and Himalayan states.

Patnaik, in the letter, has urged prime minister to intervene into the matter and address the issues appropriately.