The Nitish Kumar-led government on Monday said that it will stop demanding special category status for Bihar and seek special assistance instead. The decade-long demand had been made the primary election agenda by the Janata Dal (United) over the past several years . Bihar’s planning minister Bijendra Yadav said that the government is ‘tired’ of demanding the special status.
“Now we will seek special packages for all sectors,” Yadav said. He also objected to Niti Aayog’s way of ranking states on the index of sustainable development goals (SDGs). The government think tank placed Bihar at the bottom of the table in its 2020-21 report.
The special category status is given to states which have hilly and difficult terrain, low population density, presence of a sizable tribal population, strategic location along international borders, economic and infrastructural backwardness and non-viable nature of state finances.
Yadav said that although Bihar has some areas in which it cannot compete with other states owing to natural limitations, it registered remarkable growth in 10 out of 15 SDG index as compared to last year.
He also claimed that the state has progressed in the healthcare. “Bihar ranked the 5th in case of potable water and sanitation sector. In the per capita development expenditure index, the state grew by 17.9% over the last year as compared to the national average of 11.6%. The total fertility rate has come down to 3 (2019-20) vis-à-vis 3.8 in 2011. Still, the state’s progress was adjudged to the bottom,” said Yadav.
The minister demanded that the Niti Aayog the index and objectives of development used in its report after consultation with states.