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Northern CMs endorse Approach to Eleventh Plan

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, July 3 (UNI) The Chief Ministers of Northern States, who met here today as part of the Regional Consultations on the Approach Paper to the Eleventh Plan (2007-11), agreed with the broad contours of the the development model to be followed in these five years including stepping up the growth rate by 1.5 per cent, but desired Central intervention in several key areas and changes in Central policy.

''There are areas where Central policies need to be changed or improved. Equally there are areas where State policies need to be amended. It is a two-way street,'' Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia told newspersons.

The meting, chaired by Dr Ahluwalia, endorsed the view of the Commission that growth rates need to be improved to 9.5 per cent from the present level of 7 per cent.

In fact, Dr Ahluwalia said some States felt that they can do even better than this.

The meeting was attended by Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Gulam Nabi Azad and Punjab Chief Minister Amrinder Singh. Uttranchal Chief Minister N D Tiwari was not present at the meeting, but the event was attended by other State representatives.

A stringent note of dissent was sounded by Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav who questioned the decision of the Union Government to import wheat at a cost of more than Rs 1,000 per quintal while the 'mandis' of his state can provide wheat at the Minimum Support Price (MSP) rate of Rs 650 per quintal. Besides, he said, the quality of imported wheat was of sub-standard.

He also wanted a special package for farmers of Bundelkhand in Central Uttar Pradesh on the lines of Vidharbha region in Maharashtra and charged the Centre with discriminating against his state on some issues, especially in case of power.

The other Chief Ministers raised points specific to their states and the problems they were facing.

Dr Ahluwalia said the economy was in a phase of acclerating growth rate, but there will be years where there will be fluctutations. In the last three years, the growth rate had been high and the economy was poised to achieve a growth rate of 9 to 9.5 per cent by the terminal year of the next plan. It would thus catch up with the rapidly growing economies of South Korea and China.

The Plan Panel Deputy Chief said the Commission could have pitched for a higher growth rate, but in order to be realistic, the feasible growth rate could be higher by 1.5 per cent.

Dr Ahluwalia said nearly 70 per cent of the investments come from the private sector and the remaining from the public sector. In such a situation, the Public Sector's role becomes even more crucial and needs to be a facilitator and catalyst to spur private investments. He said massive investment and policy support was needed for the agricultural sector and there were huge gaps in the field of health and education.

High paying jobs were being created in the economy, but there was a shortage of skills, Mr Ahluwalia said for creating institutions which would impart quality skill development.

He said a thrust area of the next plan will be the development of infrastructure and private entrepreneurship will have to be harnessed to give a boost to the Public-Private partnership schemes.

In her intervention, Ms Dikshit made a slew of issues that were acting as hurdles in the development of the capital. She pleaded that the state be allowed to set up joint power plants in some other states keeping in view the shortage of land in Delhi.

She made out a case for a holistic approach for the development of the capital.

Arguing for stopping migration into the capital, she said it was impossible to accomodate more people.

The Chief Minister spoke about the skyrocketting prices of real estate and said the next Plan needs to give greater emphasis to low cost housing.

Ms Dikshit said inflexibility in the land use pattern was coming in the way of promoting public-private partnership. Besides, there was a need to simplify the cumbersome procedures relating to promotion of public-private partnerships.

UNI

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