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Odisha seeks coal blocks for OPGC at first NITI Aayog meet




 The Odisha government pressed for allotment of coal blocks for the State at the first review meeting of NITI Aayog in New Delhi today.
Chhendipada-I and Chhendipada-II coal blocks were demanded for Odisha Thermal Power Corporation (OTPC) and allocation of Utkal-B1, Utkal-B2 and Utkal-A was also demanded for the State. Similarly additional bridge linkage of 20.56 Million Tonne coal for OPGC expansion was raised by the State government.
Officials from Odisha led by Development Commissioner R Balakrishnan raised the issue of pending release of Central Sales Tax (CST) compensation. Though it was decided to release compensation for CST loss in 2013-14 to be fully paid by the Centre, 50 percent is still pending, which amounts to Rs 240.52 crore, said sources.
The officials from the State said the Revenue department had assured payment of the dues by March 2017, but funds are yet to be released to the State government.  Similarly, Rs.218.79 crore is pending to be reimbursed by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to Odisha towards security related expenditure (SRE). Enhancement cost of construction of Marine Police Stations under coastal Security Scheme is pending with MHA. While cost of construction of each Marine Police Station is around Rs.75 lakh, only Rs 48 lakh has been provided by the Union government.
It was pointed out that Indian Railways has announced to set up railway factories like wagon factory at Sitalapalli, Berhampur and wagon maintenance workshop at Kalahandi. But works are yet to be started. Similarly opening of new railway rake points in Odisha is pending with Indian Railway Board (IRB). While presently there are 21 rake points operating in the State to cater to fertilizer distribution network for all the 30 districts, the network is acutely inadequate.
As many as nine new rake points have been proposed in Keonjhar, Junagarh Dunguripalli, Kesinga, Rayagada, Cuttack, Dhenkanal, Bhadrak, Kantabanji  NITI Aayog was urged to take up the matter with IRB. Out of these nine rake points, only the one at Keonjhar has been sanctioned, said sources.
Vice Chairman NITI Aayog Aravind Panagariya chaired the meeting. CEO NITI Aayog Amitabh Kant and Secretaries of various Ministries were in attendance, where issues were discussed and Dr Panagariya urged them to sort out in a time bound manner. Team Odisha led by Balakrishna comprised Principal Secretary Commerce and Transport Sanjay Rastogi, Secretary Energy Hemant Sharma, Special Secretary Water Resources Chithra Arumugam, Special Secretary SC & ST Development Raghu Prasad, PCCF S S Srivastava and others.





Editorial

Précis 2017
From asking his party men to ‘live a simple life and serve the people’ to taunting the BJP for its ‘crocodile tears’, Chief Minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik has not only become politically invincible, he seems to be so in the coming years too.

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