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In First Post-poll NITI Aayog Meet, CMs Demand More Central Funds to Deal With Agrarian Distress

In First Post-poll NITI Aayog Meet, CMs Demand More Central Funds to Deal With Agrarian Distress

Odisha's Naveen Patnaik and Assam's Sarbananda Sonowal were among the chief ministers who asked the government to focus on the agricultural sector.

New Delhi: More central assistance to deal with farm sector distress and natural calamities, and compensation against loss of revenue on account of GST implementation beyond the five-year period were among the key demands raised by the states during the fifth Governing Council meeting of NITI Aayog here on Saturday.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy made a strong pitch to grant special category status to the debt-ridden state and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to be "gracious" in fulfilling the promise made in Parliament and also in the BJP's 2014 poll manifesto.

On the other hand, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan regretted that the Niti Aayog has not "played the much-expected role of a facilitator" in the last four years and perhaps was not a substitute for the erstwhile Planning Commission.

Modi stressed that Niti Aayog has a key role to play in fulfilling the mantra of "Sabka saath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas". He asked the states to work towards increasing the country's Gross Democratic Product (GDP) and help it achieve the goal of becoming a $5 trillion economy by 2024.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath urged the Aayog to rework the eligibility criteria for drought compensation in affected areas and reduce the crop damage limit from 33% to 20%.

Adityanath said that the CRPF companies deployed in Naxal-hit Chandauli and Sonbhadra districts of the state should not be withdrawn and the Union Home Ministry should take back its order as central forces are required to keep a check on Naxal activities. He also suggested that the loan facility under the Kisan Credit Card Scheme should be based on the crop, instead of land area.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who won a fifth consecutive term, batted for simultaneous elections and said frequent polls "vitiate development". He said the focus of the country as large as India should be on agriculture.

Mentioning how the recent Cyclone Fani had caused massive devastation to the public infrastructure, property and livelihoods, Patnaik said natural calamities should be included as a criterion for according Special Category Status to Odisha.

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal sought enhanced assistance to the people affected by natural calamities like floods, which hit the state every year. He also raised key issues pertinent to the state's development and underlined the future roadmap for state and central government's partnership.

Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy asked the Centre to extend GST compensation beyond five years, saying that the state will face "severe financial crunch" after the recompense period ends in 2022. While implementing the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the Centre had assured the states to compensate them for loss of their revenue for five years till 2022.

"While the revenue gap is being bridged by the assured compensation till 2022, the state has limited scope to mobilise additional revenue thereafter," Kumaraswamy said.