Not just targets, panels delay planning too | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Not just targets, panels delay planning too

It isn’t just the targets set out in the India’s five-year plans that face delays or go unmet. The process of formulating these plans appears to be similarly hobbled.

delhi Updated: Jun 07, 2011 23:22 IST
Prasad Nichenametla

It isn’t just the targets set out in the India’s five-year plans that face delays or go unmet. The process of formulating these plans appears to be similarly hobbled.

While the Planning Commission is busy constituting steering panels to draft sector-specific blueprints that will help finalise the country’s 12th five-year plan, HT has learned that most committees formed for the 11th plan never submitted their reports.

These committees comprise eminent experts from their respective sectors, ranging from education to economics, who meet a wide spectrum of stakeholders and draw upon the contributions of working groups and task forces of various government departments.

But only 15 of the 32 committees constituted ahead of the 11th plan (April 2007-March 2012) had filed their reports, which are available on the plan panel’s website. There were no reports from important sectors such as health, industry, financial resources, backward classes and so on.

These reports could have provided new ideas and roadmaps for timely implementation of projects and perhaps helped India clock faster growth.

“Several steering committees did not submit their reports,” said a senior Planning Commission officer who played an important role in formulating the 11th plan.

Delays of these steering committee reports contributed to the inordinate delay in the roll out of the 11th plan.

The National Development Council (NDC) approved the 11th plan in December 2007—or nine months after it was supposed to have been rolled out. The final document, with a foreword from the PM, came out in June 2008—more than a year past the rollout date, undermining the chances of achieving many of its goals from the outset. Agriculture, for instance, has clocked a growth rate of 3% against a target of 4%.

With this experience behind it, the Planning Commission began the exercise for the 12th plan (April 2012-March 2017) a year ago. Deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia has sought “a realistic target” of September 2012 for NDC approval.

However, a meeting in April to discuss the approach paper — which sets out a broad framework for the plan — said “the progress has been less than what was targeted”.

One reason why the reports of many committees are never finalised is that they find it difficult to meet. For instance, a scheduled meeting of the health committee last week did not take place as most members were simply not available.