Bihar will make centre pay back dues, says Nitish


New Delhi : Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar Saturday said the central government will have to repay Rs.1,000 crore that his government spent to repair and maintain national highways in the state.

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“I will see, the people of Bihar will see, how the centre does not pay back the money. We will not let them live in peace. We will force them to pay back,” Nitish Kumar said at a seminar here.

Addressing the seminar “Bihar on Move” organised by an upcoming news magazine, Governance Now, Nitish Kumar’s assertion came as he was responding to criticism from his political rivals that the state is making all the progress with money from Delhi.

“I’m happy with even this criticism. This, at least, acknowledges the developmental works taking place in Bihar,” he said, adding: “But the claim of money from Delhi is nothing but a bundle of lies.”

“As far as grant from the centre is concerned, we did not get any even in the worst of our times, despite all others getting it routinely like Tsunami victims got Rs.100,000 each for rebuilding their houses. Jammu and Kashmir gets it routinely, Mumbai gets it even for excessive rainfall,” Nitish Kumar said.

“We are happy for all of them that they keep getting it. But we in Bihar did not get even a ‘footi kaudi’ (single pie) from the centre when we were deluged by the Kosi in 2008. There was flood in 20 districts in 2007, we did not get it,” he said.

“I envied Delhi today for all the rainfall it got since morning while we are longing for a drop of water for the last two years and facing a severe drought. But we have not got any money from the centre,” he said.

Nitish Kumar said building and repairing national highways in the state is the central government’s responsibility. “Our earlier state government, prior to mine, used to erect a signpost on damaged stretch of the national highways in the state, proclaiming this part of the road belongs to the central government,” he said.

“I too could have done that. But, despite the centre dithering on releasing fund for its repair, we spent Rs.1,000 crore to rebuild and repair 1,600 km of national highways in the state,” he said.

“But when we demand money from the centre, they say they will not give it because you did it without asking us,” he said, adding: “We will see how the centre stomachs and digests our money.”

He said that whatever money the central government gives to the state is only as per the budgetary allocations, based on financial formula determined by Finance Commission.

“The centre is showing no mercy to us by giving what is due to us as per the constitutional provisions of the country. It’s not alms,” he said.

The Bihar chief minister said that Bihar, which had a plan outlay of merely Rs.4,000 crore in 2004-05, had five years later been able to fix an outlay of Rs.20,000 crore — a sum five times larger.

“We have been able to achieve it all on our own, managing funds even from the World Bank and other resources,” he said.

Speaking on the governance in the state, he said: “Bihar’s problem, till five years back, was not bad governance but complete absence of governance.”

“But the various institutional mechanisms, which have emerged in the state to aid and abet governance in the last few years, will survive even if I am not around,” he said, adding these “institutional mechanisms will not falter in delivering governance unless somebody really works hard to derail and destroy them”.