Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday said he expects that the long-awaited special status would be granted to the State this year, paving the way for further acceleration of the pace of development.

“I am confident of the Centre extending fuller support to Bihar,” Mr. Kumar told journalists on New Year's day.

The special status would lead to more Central assistance and remove obstacles in the way of providing coal linkage for the proposed thermal power plants in the State.

Wishing the people a prosperous 2011, he urged them and leaders of all Opposition parties to cooperate with his government in obtaining the special status.

Mr. Kumar said efforts for exerting pressure on the Centre to meet the demand would be intensified this year.

“It is a matter related to the progress of Bihar and the Assembly and Legislative Council had unanimously adopted a resolution and sent it to the Centre for consideration.”

Mr. Kumar charged the Centre with placing impediments in the way of proposals for ‘huge' investments in Bihar and hoped that 2011 would usher in good relations between the two governments.

He said the Centre should scrap the Sugar Control Act to do away with impediments in the establishment of ethanol-based industries in Bihar.

Fighting corruption

Reiterating his commitment to make Bihar corruption-free, the Chief Minister described the declaration of the assets of his ministerial colleagues as a major step which would help intensify the government's war against corruption.

Bihar Ministers would continue to provide details of their income and expenditure every year, he said, adding, he had directed the Chief Secretary to make public properties of Ministers on websites for comparative analysis.

“Corruption at any level will not be tolerated...People have to take a pledge to wipe it out,” he said.

Illegal properties of public servants would be confiscated under the Bihar Special Court Act 2009 and it would be advisable for ‘corrupt' officials to deposit their illegally accumulated properties with the State government to open much needed schools, the Chief Minister said.