PCI APPROVES PUNJAB ANNUAL PLAN FOR 2012-13 OF RS.14000 CRORE
BADAL FOR DRASTIC RECASTING OF PLANNING PROCESS
MONTEK APPRECIATES SUPERB PERFORMANCE & GROWTH INDICATORS OF ANNUAL PLAN 2011-12 IN HEALTH & EDUCATION
NEW DELHI MAY 14(Bharatsandesh news):The Annual Plan of Punjab for 2012-13 was pegged at Rs. 14000 crore with an increase of 22% over the previous year in a meeting between the Deputy Chairman Planning Commission of India Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Punjab Chief Minister Mr. Parkash Singh Badal here at Yojana Bhawan.
Disclosing this here today a spokesperson of the Punjab Government said that the approved plan outlay included one time Additional Central Assistance of Rs.480 crore, comprising Rs.144 crore as 30% GoI grant and Rs.356 crore as 70% state share for the implementation of priority projects especially in the water sector. It may be recalled the Planning Commission of India (PCI) earlier decided to fix the size of annual plan 2012-13 at Rs.12800 crore at officers’ level meeting held in April this year, which was subsequently hiked to Rs.14000 crore on the pursuance of the Chief Minister.
On the personal request of the Chief Minister, the PCI gave in principle approval to creation of industrial infrastructure in the border district and training youth in specialized skill, a cancer research centre for Malwa region, greater access to central funds in irrigation and rural development, an expert committee set up by the PCI to look in to crop diversification, support for rehabilitation of 14500 KM long canal network and some relaxation to access funds under RKVY and AIBP.
Taking part in the deliberations, the Punjab Chief Minister Mr. Parkash Singh Badal called for a drastic recasting of the planning process in the country and said that the unitary form of governance besides the centralized and top down approach to planning had brought the country to the brink of an explosive situation in which one third of the country was afflicted by conditions of insurgency, Naxalism and other forms of violence.
Pleading for decentralization of planning process at the level of the states, Mr. Badal said that the states should be given free hand so that the specific issues related to them could be effectively addressed in accordance with the felt needs of the people. He bemoaned even after 65 years of independence and planning our country was still one of the poorest in the world. He asked “Where has our planning in all these years brought us”? Mr. Badal however said: “If we look the result of all our planning in the past, we get a very dismal picture”.
Mr. Badal said that something seriously went wrong with our planning and approach. He pointed out that there was shocking poverty, unemployment, illiteracy and inequality. More than 60% of the people live on just Rs. 25 per day, according to GoI survey. They have no access to basic amenities of life house, clean drinking water, sewerage, electricity or other basic amenities. Large families have to share single unhygienic room. A majority of our population is living in sub-human conditions in slums, with no access to basic facilities of life. Consequently, an alarming migration has taken place from rural areas to the cities due to these factors.
The Chief Minister pointed out that only a truly federal system of governance and a decentralized approach to the planning process could help us to address the issues in an effective and result-oriented manner. Too much concentration of power at the Center which was neither had a feel of ground realities nor was directly accountable to the people has led to the present mess. Different areas and states have different needs but we try to impose uniform policies and decisions on the entire country. Mr. Badal referred to the growing specter of alarmingly growing poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, injustice and social and economic inequalities in the country and said that it was the need of the hour to review our entire system and planning process to ensure overall development of the states and welfare of its people.
Highlighting the major contribution of Punjab in the freedom struggle of the country besides making our nation self-reliant in food production, Mr. Badal said for which the state was aptly known as the ‘sword arm’ and the ‘granary of the country’ and therefore, deserved much justice which had been eluded so far.
Dwelling on the plight of financially stressed state, Mr. Badal said that Punjab should not be held responsible alone for any wrong doings or inefficiency rather it had fought the nation’s decade long war against militancy and consequently incurred burden of Rs.11000 crore on the central security forces. Apart from this, industrial concessions to the neighbouring states and heavy interest burden on account of debt servicing further pushed Punjab into debt trap of Rs.77585 crore. Besides Rs.7120 crore was required merely to service this debt annually. All these factors responsible for poor financial health of the state were duly acknowledged by the 13th Finance Commission thereby categorizing it as one of the debt stressed states along with Kerala and West Bengal. He also demanded immediate debt waiver of small saving loan of Rs.23264 crore or moratorium on the repayment of loan for a period of five years. Mr. Badal also demanded immediate settlement of Rs.7461 crore on account of outstanding dues to FCI. The Chief Minister also criticized the Centre for deliberately devising stringent parameters and norms to exclude the progressive state like Punjab from the ambit of centrally sponsored schemes. He cited an example of Gadgil-Mukherjee and other such formulas which worked against the interests of the developed states.
Highlighting the major issues responsible for dwindling margins of profit in agriculture, Mr. Badal also urged the PCI to recommend the state’s long pending case to waive the huge debt on state farmers of Rs.35000 crore as a one time measure regardless of the size of their land holdings. He also asked the commission to accept the recommendations of noted farm economist, Dr.MS Swaminathan to link the Minimum Support Price to the consumer price index for accounting the cost of production plus 50% as profit. He also demanded the coverage of all the districts for Wheat & Paddy under National Food Security Mission, as only 10 districts for Wheat and none for Paddy has been covered under this program so far. In a bid to encourage the farmers for diversification from Wheat & Paddy cropping pattern, Mr. Badal impressed upon the GoI to immediately evolve an effective mechanism in the terms of MSP for the purchase of other commercial crops like maize, pulses and oilseeds.
Outlining the significant achievements made by the SAD-BJP government during the last five years in the field of power, infrastructure, education, health and social security, Mr. Badal said that Punjab would soon emerge as a front runner state as constant efforts were being made to put the state in the orbit of high growth trajectory. He said that the state would soon become power surplus within next 1-2 years.
Summing up the discussions, Deputy Chairman PCI Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia assured the Chief Minister that he would soon send a team of members of the Commission to visit Punjab for seeking their valuable inputs to control the menace of water logging in the Malwa belt besides checking the depleting underground water table and ensuring the quality of potable drinking water. Dr. Ahluwalia also stressed the need to make optimum utilization of canal water for irrigation purposes in order to check the trend of excessive withdrawal of ground water. He highly appreciated the efforts of the state government in achieving the growth target in general and performance targets of annual plan 2011-12 in the core sector of health and education in particular. He also commended the superb Plan performance for the entire 11th Plan Period achieved by the state to the extent of 80%.
Prominent amongst others who attended the meeting included Union Minister of State for Planning and Science & Technology Dr. Ashwani Kumar, Local Govt. Minister Mr. Chunni Lal Bhagat, Finance & Planning Minister Mr. Parminder Singh Dhindsa, Vice Chairman State Planning Board Mr. Rajinder Gupta, Chief Secretary Mr. Rakesh Singh, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Mr. SK Sandhu, Principal Secretary Finance & Planning Mr. Satish Chandra, Secretary Expenditure Mr. Jaspal Singh, Special Secretary Finance Mr. B Purshartha, Special Principal Secretary Mr. KJS Cheema and other senior officers of the state government.
Dr. Narendra Jadhav, Mr. BK Chaturvedi, Mr. Gajendra Haldia, Prof. Abhijit Sen, Dr.(Miss) Syeda Hameed, Mr. Arun Maira, Dr. Maher Shah (all Members PCI) besides Secretary Planning Commission Smt. Sindhushree Khullar, Joint Secretary State Plan/Advisor (FR) Mr. JK Pandey and CEO (Nation Rainfed Authority) JS Samra also attended the meeting.
PCI APPROVES PUNJAB ANNUAL PLAN FOR 2012-13 OF RS.14000 CRORE