The day-long meet of the NDC — the highest policy making body of the country — felt that the acceleration of developmental process in the Naxal-hit areas of the country would help in to rein in influence of the Maoist movement.
“The NDC has asked the Planning Commission to prepare an action plan quickly for spurring development in the Left-wing extremist-affected states,” Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia told newspersons while briefing on the outcome of the meeting.
Asked whether the proposed action plan would focus on the identified 35 districts hit by Naxal violence, he said: “Suggestions have been made to cover more districts. We will work on the action plan and submit it to the government”.
Though the main agenda of Saturday’s meeting of the NDC, which was attended by chief ministers of various states and senior Union cabinet ministers, was to consider the Mid-Term Appraisal (MTA) of the Eleventh Plan (2007-12) as prepared by the plan panel, it deliberated on five areas of concerns, including the Naxal menace, power reforms and water crisis.
PM seeks states’ help
Earlier in his opening address, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh while seeking the cooperation of states in dealing with Left-wing extremism, asked the plan panel to design a holistic development programme for the Naxal-affected areas in consultation with states and other stakeholders.
Singh suggested that the challenge of Left-wing extremism has to be met with the Centre and the states cooperating fully with one another. Significantly Singh admitted development schemes had not worked well in the backward and impoverished parts of the country.
The other politically sensitive issue which dominated the meet was the rising inflation that is hitting hard the common man. While most of the chief ministers expressed concern over the rising prices, the Prime Minister hoped normal monsoon expected this year would help cool food prices and in turn ease inflation to six per cent by December.
The NDC witnessed divergence of views on tackling spiralling rise in inflation. While Singh regretted that states were not paying due attention to the farm sector — crucial to curbing inflation —chief ministers of BJP-ruled states said it was the Centre that had failed in tackling inflation.
Singh reminded the chief ministers that enhanced focus must be paid on farming sector “if we want to achieve a broad-based improvement in living standards in rural areas.” Dwelling on economic performance, Singh said though the economy would expand by 8.1 per cent annually during the Eleventh Plan period as projected in the MTA, it would still be the highest-ever achieved in any plan.
The plan in MTA lowered the average growth rate to 8.1 per cent during the Eleventh Plan as against the earlier target of 9 per cent during the plan period. Touching some of the problem areas of the economy, Singh made a case for reducing the government’s subsidy bill and using new IT techniques to “target subsidies effectively to those who really need them.”
The Prime Minister made a special reference to power sector, which is now facing mounting losses and asked the chief ministers to give personal attention to resolve the problem.
Later the NDC, while endorsing the MTA of the Eleventh Plan, decided to constitute a sub-committee headed by Urban Development Minister S Jaipal Reddy to study complex challenges of urbanisation and road map for urban development.