Ranchi, Oct. 10: Chief minister Arjun Munda is working with the Opposition to put up a united front to persuade the Centre to amend a law that Jharkhand believes is biased on the question of sharing assets and liabilities with the parent state of Bihar.
Munda said he had already received support from JVM chief Babulal Marandi, Congress’s Pradeep Balmuchu and RJD’s Annapurna Devi and now planned to convene an all-party meeting to protect the interests of the state against the “discriminatory provisions” of Bihar Reorganisation Act, 2000.
Ever since Jharkhand was carved out of Bihar, both states have traded charges on a long-pending list of grievances primarily on the modalities of division of assets and liabilities of state-owned corporations, pension and provident fund payments, land maps and claims over two Bihar bhavans in Delhi.
What has raised the hackles of the Munda government now is the Union home ministry order of September 25 that directed the Jharkhand government to reimburse Rs 2,584.09 crore to Bihar for pension and other retirement benefits paid up to March 2011 to government employees who retired before November 15, 2000, when the two states were bifurcated.
The Jharkhand government believes the act, which mandates pension liabilities be shared on the basis of number of employees and not population, is discriminatory.
The population ratio between Bihar and Jharkhand is 3:1 against an employee ratio of 2:1.
“Our only demand is that the provision mentioned in the Bihar reorganisation act be amended in uniformity with other reorganisation acts related to the division of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh,” Munda said, adding the all-party meeting was likely to be held on October 21-22.
The chief minister said a state that did not exist when the act came into being could not possibly have protected its interests. “We have been requesting the Centre for the last 11 years to amend the act to correct a historical wrong. But, there has been no positive response,” he said.
Munda also pointed to a contradictory provision regarding pension liabilities.
Clause 6 of the Eighth Schedule, which deals with the apportionment of pension in respect of employees who retired after November 15, 2000, states that the sharing would be done in the ratio of population.
“So pre-November 15, 2000 pension will be divided in the ratio of employees and post-November 15, 2000 pension will be divided in the ratio of population. How can two sets of yardsticks be applied for settling the same issue? This is arbitrary and illogical,” he claimed.
Munda said no uniform formula had been applied to share the assets and liabilities of various boards and corporations, including Jharkhand State Electricity Board, Jharkhand State Housing Board and Bihar State Road Transport Corporation. “We have to bear huge liabilities as Jharkhand did not have the details about assets and liabilities of these entities,” he said.
Both Marandi and Balmuchu said they would attend the all-party meeting. “It’s an injustice with the state. I have sought some papers from the chief minister to chalk out a future strategy,” Marandi said.