Rs 4,775 cr Annual Plan for Uttarakhand

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New Delhi, Feb 5 (UNI) The Annual Plan outlay for Uttarakhand for the year 2008-09 was today finalised at Rs 4,775 crore, which includes Central assistance of Rs 300 crores for infrastructure needed for Kumbh Mela, SAF Winter Games and other projects of special interest to the State.

The Plan size was fixed in a meeting between Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Uttaranchal Chief Minister B C Khanduri.

Commenting on the performance of the State, Dr Ahluwalia said, while the growth rate was good and even plan expenditure during the Tenth Plan was encouraging but per capita income remained rather low.

Achievement in the agriculture sector was commendable, Dr Ahluwalia said. However, the poverty level was much higher than those at the all-India level or in Himachal Pradesh in both rural and urban areas.

This shows that topmost priority should be given to creating livelihood opportunities.

Appreciable achievements have been reached in the tourism sector during the Tenth plan period and needs to be carried forward as the State has immense potential for becoming a world-class tourist centre.

The State offers a plethora of tourism options like pilgrimage, cultural, adventure, wildlife and eco-tourism. To develop high value tourism, the State should focus on developing adequate infrastructure facilities at the destinations and circuits.

On industrial policy, Dr Ahluwalia said the policy seemingly was driven by subsidy. Efforts should be to have a comprehensive plan of action for identified industries. Benefits of concessions should reach far-flung areas.

Briefing the Commission on the pace of development, Mr Khanduri said the emphasis would continue on social sector. This is clearly reflected in both the Eleventh Plan and the Annual plan proposal.

Over 37 per cent of the plan outlay would be earmarked for social services. He said efforts are on to further accelerate development of infrastructure and for this purpose four projects are being executed through external aid. These would be in roads, bridges, urban infrastructure, power and tourism development.

He sought additional support from the centre for Haridwar Maha Kumbh in 2010, South Asian Winter games and an additional grant to support earthquake affected people.

Mr Khanduri said the Centre should supplement efforts to bring Uttarakhand at par with other developed States in view of the low-level of industrialisation of the state, tax holiday period should be extended up to 2013.

He also sought Central support in tackling problem of silting of dams.

UNI GS SR DB2027

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