Special Category Status states
- GS prelims, GS Mains paper II
- Polity and governance, Special category status (SCS) states, Andhra’s demand for SCS
- Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has waithsrawn its support form BJP in the Parliament because the latter has refeused to grant Special Category Status to Andhra Pradesh.
- Andhra Pradesh has been demanding SCS since its bifurcation from Telangana in 2014 since the state is short of resources.
What is Special Category status?
- There is no provision of a Special Category State in the Constitution.
- But there are states that have historical disadvantages as compared to other states of India.
- Thereforre, the Centre had been assisting the states with funds in the past allocated by the former Planning Commission body called the National Development Council (NDC).
- Apart from Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Bihar had demanded SCS status. However, they have not been granted the status as they did not fulfill the criteria to be qualified as an SCS State.
- The NDC first accorded SCS in 1969 to Jammu and Kashmir, Assam and Nagaland. Over the years, eight more states were added to the list — Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Sikkim, Tripura and, finally, in 2010, Uttarakhand. Until 2014-15, SCS meant these 11 states received a variety of benefits and sops.
What are benefits tha Special Category states get?
- The Centre pays 90 per cent of the funds required in a centrally-sponsored scheme to special category status category states as against 60 per cent in case of normal category states, while the remaining funds are provided by the state governments.
But the 14th Finance Commission has changed the rules of the game:
- Earlier, for declaring a Special Category State, NDC considered factors such as difficult and hilly terrain, low population density and/or a sizeable share of tribal population, strategic location along borders, economic and infrastructural backwardness, and non-viable nature of state finances.
- The Fourteenth Finance Commission had removed the concept of Special Category States after its recommendations were accepted in 2015.
- The Centre is willing to provide the “monetary equivalent” of a special category state to Andhra Pradesh but would not be able to grant the “special status” that was restricted only to the north-eastern and three hilly states by the 14th Finance Commission.
- The NITI Aayog, which has replaced the Planning Commission, has no power to allocate funds.
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