Gujarat Finance Minister Saurabh Patel has urged the Union Finance Ministry to release Rs 1200 crore for setting up Lokayukta infrastructure in the state.
Speaking to PTI, Patel said, “I raised the issue of central funding (of Rs 1200 crore) with Arun Jaitley during my meeting with him in New Delhi on Thursday.”
Patel informed the FM that Gujarat did not get the funds due to the Lokayukta Bill impasse in 2013 but now since the state government has passed the crucial Bill and already appointed Retd Gujarat High Court Judge D P Buch as Lokayukta, the funds should be released soon.
He also requested the Centre to facilitate immediate payment of royalty by ONGC on crude oil on post discount prices to Gujarat, which according to the Navratna reportedly works out to be Rs 10,000 crore from April 2008 till September 2013.
Patel also explained in detail to Jaitley the Supreme Court judgement on the matter in February this year. The PSU had moved the apex court against the Gujarat High Court order of November last year. However, on February 13, the apex court stayed the HC order, but told ONGC to pay royalty based on the pre-discount price starting February.
The Gujarat HC had ordered that royalty on crude oil is to be paid on pre-discount price and directed ONGC to make good the shortfall within two months.
Patel also urged Jaitley to consider Desert Development Programme (DDP) area at par with Drought Prone Area Programme (DPAP) under Accelerated Irrigation benefit Programme (AIBP) Scheme for the state.
During the discussion, Patel apprised that under AIBP guidelines, central government provides financial assistance to the tune of 90% in Drought Prone Area Programme (DPAP) areas and only 25% in Desert Development Programme (DDP) areas.
“In the modified AIBP guidelines made effective from October 2013, this anomaly has been removed for new projects benefitting DDP areas/Drought prone areas with 75% assistance.
“However, the ongoing projects remain stuck at the 25% central assistance,” the Minister said, requesting the Union Minister to extend the same level of central aid for ongoing project works as well.
Jaitley assured Patel that he will look into the merits of each case and will do the needful.