Sikkim Annual Plan fixed at rs 852 crores

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New Delhi, Feb 15 (UNI) The Annual Plan for Sikkim for the year 2008-09 was today finalised at Rs 852 crores, which includes additional Central assistance of Rs 77 crores for projects of special importance to the state.

The plan was finalised in Yojna Bhavan at a meeting between Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling.

In his remarks, Dr Ahluwalia complimented the state for alround performance and said that the human development indicators of the state were better than most of states. The state was doing well in areas of health, education and other priority programmes.

Emphasis should continue on social and physical infrastructure, he said. Efforts to promote public private partnership in the development process were appreciated.

Dr Ahluwalia said performance during Eleventh plan was satisfactory. State had almost achieved the growth targets set for the Tenth Plan, he said.

The state was advised to maintain progress achieved in agriculture with concerted efforts aimed at increasing the barea under agriculture without compromising on efforts aimed at improving growth in horticulture and floriculture. Cluster approach in promoting horticulture and floriculture was recommended. Thrust areas should include tourism, horticulture, floriculture and human resource development. These will not only generate revenue but also create employment opportunities.

In his comments on the development strategy adopted by the State for the Eleventh Plan, Mr Chamling said the state would continue emphasis on social sector and more than 40 per cent of funds would be earmarked for the sector.

He said the state government was keen on skill development especially in the area of tourism where trained manpower was needed.

He said efforts would continue to further improve the fiscal health.

Mr Chamling said elections to rural local bodies have been completed and this would help further accelerate the pace of development.

He said in addition to promotion of tourism, horticulture and floriculture and citizen friendly services, setting up of low volume, high value and eco-friendly industries would be encouraged.

Policy initiatives have helped in creating investment friendly environment and more than Rs.1000 crores of investment have been committed. He sought adequate financial assistance from the Central government for setting up a centre of excellence for project forumation and execution and establishment of a Central University in Sikkim.

UNI GS AM KN2133

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