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A lot needs to be done for backward states like Odisha during the 12th Plan Poverty At Its Worst

Updated: July 21, 2012 4:07 pm

Five year plans are important instrument in the planning process of our country. Five Year Plans are designed to be road maps for planners, implementers and regulators so that they follow the planned path. Every five year, a new plan is formulated which sets its own objectives, policies, programmes of development and growth target. Like the eleventh plan, the approach to 12th five year plan also focuses on achieving rapid but inclusive growth. It also added sustainable concerns.

The eleventh five year plan (2009-08 to 2011-12) had aimed at achieving faster and more inclusive growth. Rapid GDP growth, targeted at 9.0 percent per annum, was regarded necessary for two reasons: first to generate the income and employment opportunities that were needed for improving living standards for the bulk of the population; and second, to generate the resources needed for financing social sector programmes, aimed at reducing poverty and enabling inclusiveness.

Both Budget and plan reflects Government’s priorities and in this process public participation is very much essential. But it has been found during the last few decades that public participation is a week area. At the end of every plan period we often hear that the plan couldn’t ensure public participation properly. Similarly, bypassing plan outlay sometimes populist measurers or new schemes are being announced by successive governments that actually led to unbalanced development.

However, there is a need to see whether the primary but essentials tools like Development Approach, Rural Development, and Sustainable Natural Resources Management with emphasis on Forest, Land and Water. Governance & Equity share with special reference on regional imbalance and social inequality besides Gender and Social Exclusion are there or not. But, it has become a customary practice since the inception of first five year plan from 1951-1956 that laid stress on only in Growth trajectory which is either static, stagnant or staggering from 4.3 per cent in first five year plan to a maximum 8.2 per cent in eleventh plan period.

According to the sources in Union Government; in preparing the Approach paper, the Planning Commission consulted much more widely than even before recognizing the fact that Citizens are now better informed and also keen to engage. Over 950 civil society organizations across the country have provided inputs; business associations, including those representing small enterprises have been consulted; modern electronic and social media are being used to enable citizens to give suggestions. All state governments as well as local representative institutions and Unions, have been consulted through five regional consultations. While contesting these arguments a grassroots activist working with farming communities said “all these lack inputs from field and remote areas for which the plan is targeted”.

Other important feature of the growth experienced in the eleventh plan, which is relevant to inclusiveness, is that high rates of economic growth have been more broadly shared than ever before across the states. While most states have shown sustained high rates of growth, several of the economic weaker States have demonstrated an improvement in their growth rates. Amongst them are Bihar, Odisha, Assam, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand and to some extent Uttar Pradesh. According to the available data no State has averaged GSDP growth of less than 6.0 per cent during the eleventh plan period.

While the economically- weaker states are catching up in growth rates, there is a growing concern about the backwardness of individual districts, several of which are located in states that are otherwise doing well. Many of these districts are also affected by Left Wing Extremism. The Backward Regions Grant Fund (BGRF) and various other regional initiatives have been specially designed to address this problem.

Reducing poverty is a key element in the inclusive growth strategy and there is some progress in this regard. According to previous official poverty estimates, the percentage of the population living below the poverty line had declined by 8.5 percentage points between 1993-04 and 2004-05. Since the appropriateness of the poverty line was questioned in some quarters, the Government appointed an expert committee under the Chairmanship of the late Prof. Suresh Tendulkar. The Tendulkar Committee recommended a recalibration of rural poverty line to make it more comparable with the urban poverty line, which it found to be appropriate. The application of Tendulkar Committee poverty line provides a higher estimate of rural poverty and therefore also of total poverty, but if the new method is applied to the earlier years, as it should be, it shows that the percentage of the population in poverty declined from 45 percent in 1993-94 to 37 per cent in 2004-05. Thus, poverty declined at roughly 0.8 percentage points per year during the 11 year period before the Eleventh Plan.

The Eleventh Plan had set a more ambitious target of achieving a decline in poverty ratio of 2 percentage points per year. While the actual performance in this regard was below this target, it was better than it was in the earlier decade. But many in civil society and integenstia do not agree with this statistical jugglery.

The Eleventh Plan gave special impetus to several programmes aimed at building rural and urban infrastructure and providing basic services with the objective of increasing inclusiveness and reducing poverty. The Schemes like MGNREGA, Indira Awas Yojana (IAY), National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP), Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), NRHM, ICDS, Mid Day Meal (MDM), Sarva Sikhya Abhiyan (SSA), JNNURM, AIBP, Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyuti Karan Yojana (RGGVY), NRDWP and Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) and Rastriya Krushi Vikash Yojana. And there are approximately 267 centrally sponsored schemes of the them at least 150 are large programmes.

Most of these programmes are Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS), which are implemented by State Government Agencies, but are largely funded by the Central Government with a defined state government share. The total expenditure on these schemes by the central government in 2011-12 (Budget Estimate) is RS.188, 573 crore, and the total expenditure during the Eleventh Plan is almost 700,000 crore. As one would expect the effectiveness of their implementation varies from State to State. Instances of misuse of funds are frequently reported in studies and press reports, and these are a legitimate source of concern that needs attention.

However, it must be kept in mind that while instances of misuse or leakage present serious problems, they do not necessary imply that the overall impact of the programme is not positive, argues the plan panel report. It stated MGNREGA which was started in 2006-07 and extended to the whole country during the Eleventh Plan period has seen several instances of misuse of fund, but it has also notched up a remarkable success. It must be admitted, however, that there has been a proliferation of Centrally Sponsored Schemes over a period of years. This has led to poor implementation, duplication, lack of convergence and sub-optional results. There is an urgent need to transform the system and sharply reduce the number of schemes. This will enable more focused and effective implementation, the report stressed. A Committee under Mr BK Chaturvedi, Member Planning Commission, has been appointed to review the entire gamut of Centrally Sponsored Schemes and make recommendations for rationalisation and consolidation leading to significant reduction in their number.

Odisha

Since long Odisha Government has been alleging that Central Government is neglecting the state and showing step motherly attitude. Due to non availability of Fund many programmes and Schemes has not seen the light of day said a source in state government. But in other hand Union Government has rejected state governments claim in saying, there has been no dearth of fund rather Odisha Government has failed to utilize funds meant for Centrally Sponsored Schemes or has diverted funds to convert these schemes as State Government Schemes. Between these allegations and counter allegations, the funds and welfare programmes meant for targeted communities have been the causality.

The issue has been raised by Odisha Chief Minister Shri Naveen Patnaik on the 56th meeting of the National Development Council held on 22nd October 2011. Mr Patnaik in his intervention had said the approach of the Plan should be to reduce regional disparity. It is pity that States like Odisha which are rich in mineral resources have not been able to reap the benefits of rapid Industrialization due to certain lopsided policies of Government of India. Royalty from mineral resources which could have funded a higher plan size and trigger development has been kept persistently low in spite of several requests made by Odisha in the past. Due to sustained effort by mineral-based States, the Royalty rates have been shifted to an ad valorem regime but the impact of this change has been dented by an artificially low price of minerals as determined by the IBM. The matter has been taken up with Government of India on a number of occasions but the results have not been encouraging.

He further added, the draft approach paper has also focused on historically disadvantaged regions including the Koraput-Bolangir-Kalahandi (KBK) Region of Odisha, which continue to lag behind in terms of most development indicators. It argues for pro-actively addressing these concerns and find solutions to the problems of the region. Correction of Inter-state imbalances has been receiving special attention in the plan strategy of Odisha. Heavy incidence and persistence of poverty in the KBK region of odisha has been a cause of serious concern. Though the region has benefitted from implementation of Revised Long Term Action Plan (RLTAP), it still lags behind other regions of the state. In order to bring this region on a par with the other areas, the State, strongly urge Government of India to extend the Special Plan for the KBK region for at least ten years beyond the year 2011-12 with increased funding, in order to expedite development of the region as Odisha has developed an Eight Year Perspective Plan for a projected outlay of Rs. 4,550 crore in consultation with the Planning Commission.

According to a Policy Brief for 12th Plan Period compiled by Bhubaneswar based Regional Centre for Development Cooperation (RCDC) in collaboration with other organizations, said excessive growth focus on sectors like mining and quarrying contradicts the plan objective of sustainable and inclusive growth. The report further added, Odisha, being in the midst of a rapid transformation stage, needs to have its priorities and focus clear. India’s 12th Plan period approach paper cities Odisha’s fastest rate of economic growth-when compared to some other major states-as an indicator of ‘inclusiveness’. However, there have been a lot of concerns and apprehensions about widening disparities in development share and shouldering burden of destructions. On many socio-economic-environment parameters Odisha is falling farther behind. Odisha needs to revive its primary sector, i.e. agriculture. Apprehensions are that the present approach to development gives s suicidal over-emphasis on Industry sector and glosses over.

By Sudarshan Chhotoray From Bhubaneswar

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