New Delhi: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday proposed that natural calamities should be a criteria for according Special Category Status to states, while asking for Rs 5,228 crore aid in wake of the huge devastation caused by cyclone Fani to public infrastructure, property and livelihoods of the people in the state. He also sought the allocation for 5 lakh permanent houses to replace the habitations damaged in the cyclone. In his address at the fifth meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi here, Patnaik said that the unique geo-climatic condition of Odisha made it vulnerable to multiple and frequent natural disasters. Also Read – Cong may promise farm loan waiver in Haryana “During the period 1900 to 2019, the state has experienced one or other disaster like flood, cyclone or drought every year. These natural calamities pose a serious challenge to our economic development. Therefore I propose that ‘natural calamity’ should be included as a criteria for according Special Category Status to Odisha.” As an interim measure, he said that all states hit by major calamities may be declared as “Special Focus States” and granted benefits of Special Category Status for a specific period. Also Read – Modi formed OBC commission which earlier govts didn’t do: Shah “This will not only help Odisha but any other state which is hit by a major natural calamity,” Patnaik said. He apprised the Governing Council that Odisha has come a long way – from a poverty-stricken state to a one which showed the highest reduction of poverty among major states in a decade; from a food-deficient state to a rice-surplus state and one of the largest contributors to the Central pool; and from a helpless state at the time of disasters to a State which has set global standards in disaster management. Terming the NITI Aayog Governing Council as “Team India”, Patnaik made some broad suggestions for women empowerment in all spheres, simultaneous elections as “frequent elections affect the development climate” and that in a large country like India, primary sector especially agriculture should always be taken care of. Suggesting judicious utilization of water resources, he called for the Second Green Revolution to happen in India’s dryland areas. He proposed that environmental and economic development should go hand in hand and he was of the view that a scientific comprehensive survey was needed as most of the beneficiary-oriented schemes were based on such surveys. Citing his government’s Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA) scheme for the welfare of 50 lakh small and marginal farmers and 25 lakh landless agricultural households, he welcomed the scheme for providing income support to farmers, but strongly suggested inclusion of landless labourers and sharecroppers under PM-KISAN as rural prosperity and reduction in poverty cannot be achieved without adequate focus on these weaker sections of agricultural economy. The Odisha Chief Minister said that creation of new/optimization of existing irrigation potential with due regard to water use efficiency are key factors to achieve the goal of raising agricultural productivity and doubling income of the farmers.