The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Munda heads to Delhi with wish list

Ranchi, June 9: Chief minister Arjun Munda will reach Delhi along with his cabinet colleagues tomorrow to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and press for a package.

Munda’s wish list includes a “special state” status for Jharkhand, a special economic package for the revival of HEC as well as other ailing industrial units and completion of long-pending projects, especially those belonging to the irrigation and power sectors.

In September last year, Munda had gone to Delhi along with his cabinet colleagues and met the President, the Prime Minister, the deputy Prime Minister and other ministers with the same request.

Munda claimed that he got positive assurances from all quarters. “No government can take such type of decisions overnight. A special economic package for Jharkhand was being worked out by the Vajpayee government. An expert committee was constituted at the behest of the President to find out how the underground mine fire in Jharia could be put out.

“Now that a new government has come to power at the Centre, it has become necessary for us to make a formal demand,” he said.

However, according to former chief secretary Vijay Shankar Dube, Jharkhand does not fulfil the criteria for securing the special state status. Normally, the special status is granted to border states or states where tribal population exceeds 50 per cent of the total population and the available natural resources are negligible.

But Munda feels that since Jharkhand is one of the most backward states in the country with a sizeable tribal population, it ought to be given the special state status.

A report of the National Commission on Population says the five most backward districts of the country fall in Jharkhand. “Hence, the demand for special status to Jharkhand is not unjustified, ” Ranchi University economics teacher Ramesh Sharan said, adding that Munda should have pursued it more actively with the earlier regime.

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