Karnataka is all set to adopt a new set of indicators to determine backwardness of taluks, replacing the two decades old metrics put in place by the D M Nanjundappa Committee, to address regional imbalances in development.
The Nanjundappa Committee, which submitted its report way back in 2002, identified 114 backward taluks. Since 2007, the state government has allocated thousands of crores of funds, but legislators continue to complain of regional disparities.
“Funds are being allocated to taluks based on the indicators provided by the Nanjundappa Committee report. But the report itself is nearly 20 years old,” an official from the Department of Planning, Programme Monitoring & Statistics said.
So, authorities are now planning to use 49 indicators that the NITI Aayog developed for its aspirational districts programmes. These 49 indicators are spread across six areas: Health and Nutrition; Education; Agriculture and Water Resources; Financial Inclusion and Skill Development; Basic Infrastructure.
The Nanjundappa Committee used 35 indicators under Agriculture & Allied Sectors, Trade Business & Finance, Economic Infrastructure, Social Infrastructure and Demographic Characteristics. It was based on this that the 114 backward taluks were classified as most backward (39), more backward (40) and backward taluks (35).
Many of these taluks are located in north Karnataka, especially the Kalyana Karnataka region.
Although the Nanjundappa Committee gave its report in 2002, the government began implementation only in 2007-08 for an 8-year period till 2014-15. This was extended for another five years that ended in 2019-20. The government has allocated Rs 3,000 crore each in 2020-21 and 2021-22 for remedying regional imbalance.
The Committee had recommended an outlay of Rs 31,000 crore for the backward taluks. Till the 2020-21 fiscal, the government has kept Rs 35,821 crore against which Rs 27,341 crore have been spent.
According to the authorities, the implementation of the Nanjundappa Committee report has resulted in “partial” redressal of regional imbalances. A 2018 evaluation done by the government showed that 18 out of 114 backward taluks witnessed development at the rate of 15.7%. Also, ten out of the 39 most backward taluks saw development.
Former minister Priyank Kharge of the Congress agreed that a new report was needed. “It’s a two decades old report while social demographics and aspirational values have changed,” he said. “But I’d like to flag that the 49 indicators of the NITI Aayog should be localized instead of being copy-pasted.”