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Amid Rights and Federal Ethos - Ramesh kumar Sharma - The Sunday Indian
 
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Monday, October 23, 2017
 
 

CHHATTISGARH

Amid Rights and Federal Ethos

 

In an interaction with The Sunday Indian's Ramesh kumar Sharma, Chief Minister Raman Singh of Chhattisgarh talks about development in his state and also lays down a strong case for Niti Aayog
RAMESH KUMAR SHARMA | Issue Dated: July 5, 2016, New Delhi
Tags : Raman Singh | Niti Aayog |
 

National Institute for Transforming India, popularly called Niti Aayog, was set up as a replacement for the Planning Commission, which was seen as a legacy of the Neruvian polity. Although this organisation has its fair share of fans and detractors, Chief Minister Raman Singh of Chhattishgarh clearly falls in the former category. He is of the opinion that it is a visionary step which will go a long way in taking the provinces along in the developmental story of India. He is also of the opinion that this body should get the constitutional affiliation making it more potent.

After the constitution of Niti Aayog, the 14th Finance Commission took major decisions such as increase of devolution percentage for provinces to 42 percent, auction of coal blocks etc. States like Chhattisgarh are expected to reap the benefits for years to come.

Raman Singh is also of the opinion that the Modi Government has not only taken big decisions in the last two years, but has also raised the prestige of India abroad. He also gives credit of the investment of the tune of Rs. 24,000 crores to Prime Minister Modi. According to him, the state had never seen such a quantum of investment in such a short time. The state will see a windfall gain of Rs 6400 crores through the increase in devolution percentage, as recommended by the Finance Commission, as well as an additional gain of Rs 2000 crores through the allotment of coal blocks. This fund will go a long way in strengthening the crumbling infrastructure of the state.

Talking about the annual targets, Singh maintained that every province should have the right to set their own annual targets depending on the resources at their disposal. Also, those projects that are bearing fruits in one state should be implemented in other states as well. And those which have failed to garner results should be stopped immediately. He also advocated more rights for the states in the allotment of the ‘Untied Fund.’ Explaining this, he said that those Central Government programs, which are implemented by the states under the Untied Fund allotment, must have the flexibility so that states can implement these programs without any hassle.

Chhattisgarh is a relatively newly formed state where important projects such as "Freight Corridor" are being operated on the Public-Private Partnership model. As per Singh, Niti Aayog can provide technical consultations and experts in sectors such as these. One way of achieving this is to form a ‘Knowledge Hub.’ This Knowledge Hub should have experts of national and international repute. This institute should work as a policy laboratory of sorts and should provide evidence based suggestions and consultations to state and central government in order to formulate policy formation, availability of resources and planning. This institute should also wok as a bridge between policy formulators, academicians and researchers. Centre-state coordination has visibly increased in recent times. Even the PMO is involved closely in these regular interactions. For example, Raman Singh recently held a considerably long discussion with the Prime Minister on various issues and briefed him on several ongoing projects in the state including roadways and railways projects. He also held discussion on sensitive issues concerning the state.

In the month of June 2016 itself, a sub-group of Niti Aayog led by Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal of Punjab held a meeting at Mahanadi Bhawan Ministry. The meeting included Chief Minister Raman Singh, Chief Minister Anandiben Patel of Gujarat as well as representatives of as many as ten states. The meeting dealt with the issue of strengthening the potency of skill development programs. Talking to mediapersons, Sindhushree Khullar, the officer from Niti Aayog said, “This is good that every state is focusing on the skill development of the youngsters." Talking specifically about Chhattisgarh, the officer said, "District Mineral Foundation is doing a great job of skill development in Chhattisgarh. This should be implemented in other states as well.” Raman Singh added that skill development has been made a legal right in Chhattisgarh.

Raman Singh further added that his government wants to impart vocational training to youths in the remotest of the districts in the state. All 27 districts have a Livelihood College now. And this initiative is being taken to the block level too. As much as Rs 190 crores have been earmarked for the Livelihood Colleges. The state is also organising Career Fairs in these districts so that youngsters can obtain gainful employment. As of now, mineral and allied industries are being prioritised, but in the coming days, agriculture and horticulture will also be included. Similarly, experts related to agriculture and allied activities also gathered in Raipur this month to offer consultations on the issue. The suggestions were further forwarded to the state planning commission. The meeting, which was addressed by Chief Minister Raman Singh, later debated and discussed relevant crops, machineries and know-how for different climates. One of the suggestions was to combine agriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry in to one allied group. Another suggestion was regarding the establishment of a Technology Incubation Park. Deputy Chief of the State Planning Commission, Sunil Kumar, expressed his desire that such consultations be held on a regular basis where exchange of ideas could happen unhindered.

Clearly, Chhatisgarh seems a very positive example and evidence for a deeper involvement of Niti Aayog in state affairs, something other states can follow.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017