The Planning Commission’s decision to discontinue the Centre’s Integrated Action Plan (IAP) to bridge the development deficit in 82 naxal-affected districts from the next financial year is not likely to go down very well with the home ministry.
The plan panel and the home ministry have been jointly responsible for the IAP since it was launched in 2010-11 as a development initiative in 35 worst-affected districts.
Planning Commission member in-charge of rural development Mihir Shah told HT, “There would be no IAP from the next financial year.”
According to the new plan, the central government will provide funds to naxal-affected districts under the revamped Backward Regions Grant Fund (BGRF), a flagship scheme for the overall development of 200 most socially and economically deprived districts of India. The BGRF was introduced in 2006, and was the only source of funding for naxal-affected areas before the IAP was introduced.
Lately, the IAP has come under criticism for its rapid expansion --- 82 districts from the initial 35 in less than two years --- and bureaucratic approach.
Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh said recently that the three-member committee chaired by the district collector to select projects and implement them was not very effective. “There has been no active involvement of local elected representatives. Therefore the money does not get spend where it should be.”
Ramesh also said that treating all districts identically was problematic.
Any increase in funding under BRGF is unlikely as the plan panel believes that panchayats do not have capacity to absorb more than already allocated. “Unless the capacity is improved allocating more (funds) will be of no use,” another plan panel official said.
With the rural development and panchayati raj ministries on board with the new plan, official sources said the commission will be circulating a cabinet note on the matter soon.