The Planning Commission has termed the Union Cabinet's decision on Integrated Action Plan as "deeply retrogressive" saying that by allowing the district-level committees to utilise development funds, the common man was being excluded.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on November 24, 2011, had decided that a committee of district collector, superintendent of police and district forest officer (DFO) will utilise Rs25 crore and Rs30 crore for 2010-11 and 2011-12, respectively, in the 60 Naxal-affected districts of the country.
Difference of opinion
On how Rs3,300crore will be spent over 2 years
CCEA: A committee of district collector, SP and district forest officer will utilise the fund in 60 tribal and backward districts.
Plan panel: Wants people participation in money utilisation, not leaving it at discretion of officials
Bridging trust deficit
CCEA: Committee will have flexibility to spend amount in areas where there aren’t enough funds
Plan panel: No direct role of people will aggravate sense of exclusion among tribals
On monitoring the plan
CCEA: At state level, development commissioner will monitor utilisation of funds and at national level, the Planning Commission
Plan panel: No use, as none of our recommendations such as incentivising implementation of Forest Rights Act, Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas Act and strengthening of Panchayati Raj Institutions have been accepted.
The committee had rejected the commission's proposal that Rs13,000 crore should be used for development work after strengthening the local panchayati raj institutions (PRIs) in consultation with civil society members.
The home ministry and Prime Minister's Office (PMO) too had opposed the proposal saying it was not viable. Later, home minister P Chidambaram had said that since the PRIs were defunct in many districts, accepting the commission's suggestion was difficult.
In a note submitted to the PMO, the commission went to the extent of suggesting that the scheme should be handed over to the home ministry or any other department deemed suitable as none of its recommendations were accepted.
The note prepared by plan panel member Mihir Shah and endorsed by deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia reportedly says that providing equal amount of money to all districts irrespective of size and need (poverty and tribal population) makes no sense.
The commission has also doubted whether the district administration will be able to utilize the funds fully as its internal analysis showed poor analysis of funds under its existing flagship programmes.
"A materialistic approach to the tribal issue will only aggravate the situation and risk it getting completely out of hand," sources in the commission said.
The note also said that people in these areas were experiencing a deep sense of exclusion and CCEA's decision had re-inforced the feeling.
The commission has asked PMO to consider a conflict resolution mechanism as adopted by the World Bank, where an independent ombudsman is appointed to resolve grievances.