New Delhi: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik Sunday said the central government must provide greater flexibility to the states for designing and implementing programmes suited to their specific needs.

Participating in the first meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog here, Patnaik expressed concern over arbitrary cuts under existing central schemes that have led to delay in completion of projects and cost-overruns.

The chief minister suggested that the Governing Council meetings must be preceded by official-level meetings to ensure that the major concerns of the states are duly captured on the agenda.

Expressing disappointment with some provisions of the recent ordinance of the Mines and Minerals (Development And Regulation) or MMDR Act, Patnaik suggested that no further extension be given to leases that have completed 50 years and desired that all such leases be settled afresh through auction in a transparent manner.

On the pollution in Odisha due to coal mining and other related activities, Patnaik demanded that a ‘Green Tax’ be imposed to compensate the state against effects of mining.

Raising the issue of non-availability of funds for irrigation, rural roads and railway projects, the chief minister said Odisha was taking steps to remove any obstacles in the implementation of infrastructure projects.

He said Odisha faces natural disasters every alternate year with huge adverse impact on the state’s resources, and requested the central government that this issue must be addressed while deciding on the allocation of resources to the state.

He said railway density in Odisha continues to remain well below the national average, and urged the centre for enhanced provisions for all ongoing railway projects to ensure their completion in the next three years.

Patnaik said his government was making arrangements to provide concrete houses to all those with mud houses in rural areas at a cost of Rs.30,000 crore over the next five years.

He said the central government should meet at least 75 percent of the expenditure.

Source: IANS