Over An Year Gone, Planning Boardís Fate Hangs In Balance

Over An Year Gone, Planning Boardís Fate Hangs In Balance

30 June 2013
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: The much hyped proposal of the State Government to set up first ever Planning Board in Jammu and Kashmir to address development needs of all regions and districts especially the backward and under-developed pockets has been hanging for past over a year now, reportedly due to bureaucratic wrangling. Even as composition of the Planning Board, whose constitution was first announced by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah himself in 2012 budget session of the Legislature in February-March that year when he was holding charge of the Planning Department, has already been finalised, its constitution continued to be delayed reportedly due to files moving from one Department to the other. Official sources, however, said that the Government was committed to the constitution of the Planning Board on the pattern of Planning Commission of India and it would overcome all hurdles or queries raised by the different departments to ensure that the Board was set up at the earliest. But going by the response to queries by different departments engaged with the task of setting up of the Board, its constitution didnít seem to be an easy task. Sources said Chief Minister Omar Abdullah as well as new Planning and Development Department Minister Ajay Sadhotra have given nod to setting up of the Board but it was composition of the Board that was leading to its delay. The Board to be headed by the Chief Minister himself was supposed to look into concerns of some backward and under-developed States and release adequate funds in their favour for their proper development. However, sources regretted that more than a year has passed when the Chief Minister had made an announcement on constitution of the Board but its fate continued to hang in balance. The 13th Finance Commission of India had also suggested to the State Government to set up its own Planning Board to address needs of all regions, districts and areas in development. As per composition of the Board proposed by the Government, it was to be headed by the Chief Minister and have 12 members from among the legislators (both MLAs and MLCs), Members of Parliament (MPs), retired bureaucrats and experts of Planning and Development. It was also supposed to have four Directors and eight Deputy Directors. The Government had already sanctioned 53 member staff for the Board. According to the Government proposal, the Planning Board had to evolve an integrated approach to policy formulation in planning and development in the State. The Board had to play an effective advisory and recommendatory role for evolving an integrated approach to policy formulation in critical areas of human and economic development. It will also play a role of mediator and facilitator for devising a framework for allocation of resources for equitable development of different regions across the State. Apart from this, it will facilitate making an assessment of material, capital and human resources of the State, including technical personnel and exploring the possibility of augmenting resources, the Planning Board would formulate long-term, medium-term and annual plans for most effective and balanced utilisation of resources. Sources said the Planning Board could have undertaken visits to all districts and identified needs of backward pockets of the State to ensure that they were released more funds from the plan and other Centrally Sponsored Schemes for development. However, delay in its constitution has upset whatever the little hopes the people of far off areas had for the development of their villages and districts.