New Delhi: Bihar does not meet the existing criteria to be granted the status of special category state, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said on Wednesday.

"Bihar does not meet the existing criteria according to which a state is deemed eligible for special category state. We do recognise that Bihar and some parts do have a special problem and as part of BGRF (Backward Regions Grant Fund) we have Bihar package," Ahluwalia told reporters here.

He was briefing the media on the eve of National Development Council meeting to be chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Chief Minister of Bihar Nitish Kumar last week said he would raise the demand for special status state for Bihar at the National Development Council meeting.

Special category status brings private investment in a state as investors get tax benefits.

Kumar had also met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and handed over a six-page letter on the demand to provide special category state status to Bihar to spur growth.

Bihar demands the special category state status saying it is subject to floods. Likewise, Rajasthan demands the same saying it is subject to draught.

Ahluwalia said the Planning Commission cannot see to such demands by states in isolation.

"Either we have to reopen the whole question or respond (to) the demand of one state. Many states have problem," he said.

Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkin, Tripura and Uttarakhand are amongst the states that have been granted special category status. Special category states are given favoured treatment in respect of plan financing and financial devolutions. Most of them have the common characteristics of hilly and difficult terrain and very low level of infrastructural development.

"Either the government has to scrap the present special category system and reopen it or it cannot be done state by state.

"We are not making any such proposal however as far as Bihar is concerned, you have special Bihar package which is part of BGRF, we are continuing it in the 12th Plan," Ahluwalia said.

He added as per the special package for states, the government also provides special assistance to West Bengal and Bundelkhand (a combined region in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh).

Ahluwalia said there has been response for the particular problem raised by Bihar and the special package would continue in the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17) as well.


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