Two union ministers have asked the central government to spend wisely to reap maximum benefits from the social sector programmes intended for Naxal-affected and other backward regions.
In a bid that would solve the development disparity within the districts and also let the Congress improve its vote bank at the backward regions, rural development minister Jairam Ramesh and minister for panchayati raj and tribal affairs V Kishore Chandra Deo have asked the planning commission to allocate funds under Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF) and Integrated Action Plan (IAP) to blocks, not districts as practised now.
The two schemes-BRGF (250 districts) and IAP (78 districts)-launched by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) to plug gaps in development in remote areas have a combined budget of R7400 crore (2011-12). Many of the districts covered under IAP also fall under BRGF. The minister's argument - coming midway the UPA 2 rule--is based on the observation that district wise approach has further widened the disparity within the backward districts.
"It is not an entire district that might be backward or affected by left wing extremism, then why allocate money to an entire district while leaving out some needy blocks in other districts," said Ramesh while demanding a more focussed identification of backward regions in the 12th Plan.
A block is an administrative division under a district and each district has 15-35 blocks depending on area and population.
"Funds which should ideally go to the most backward parts are utilised for programmes in towns in districts, defeating the purpose," Deo told HT quoting the case of his district Vizainagaram in Andhra Pradesh.
Block-wise funding will also allow MPs and MLAs take more interest in better usage of funds and implementation as blocks tally with their constituencies, than districts. The centre launched IAP with Rs25crore and Rs30 crore for 2010-11 and 2011-12 respectively. The BRGF, launched by the PM from Assam in 2006-07, provides around Rs20 crore to a district.