Special Correspondent

BHUBANESWAR: A four-member team of the State Congress leaders on Friday met the Chairman of 13th Finance Commission Vijay L. Kelkar here and urged him to recommend adequate financial support to the State.

The leaders who met Dr. Kelkar and other Members of the Finance Commission include former Finance Minister of the State Ramakrushna Patnaik, former Union Minister Srikant Jena, former Finance Secretary to Orissa Government Prasanna Mishra, and senior leader Alok Jena.

The leaders also handed over a six-page memorandum to Dr. Kelkar listing their suggestions and demands for sufficient financial support for the State from the Centre in the coming years. They urged the Commission that the vertical sharing of the net proceeds of all sharable Central taxes and duties be raised to 50 per cent.

The leaders urged the Finance Commission to accord priority to developmental programmes in the districts that were badly affected by Left wing extremism.

The Congress leaders also demanded for adequate staff in the police stations in the Maoist-infested regions.

As rapid industrialisation had started affecting environment, the party demanded that a healthy balance be kept between economic development and ecology. A massive plantation programme should be undertaken across the State to cope with the situation.

Primary education and healthcare services should be given priority, the leaders suggested. About 60 per cent of the hospitals and dispensaries in the State were not having required number of doctors on paramedical staff. The situation in tribal-dominated district and the backward Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput (KBK) region was worse, they submitted.

The leaders also expressed concern over lack of teachers in thousands of primary schools. Although the Central government has taken initiatives for universalisation of elementary education, the education sector was experiencing a series of problems in the State, they said.

In order to successfully implement the programme of universalisation of elementary education a special grant of Rs. 1,000 crore should be sanctioned for the State, they suggested.