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Montek emphasises need to promote agriculture

india Updated: Dec 11, 2006 23:40 IST

Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia on Monday emphasised the need to give a thrust to agriculture, water resources and critical infrastructure in rural areas.

At a briefing at the end of the National Development Council meeting he recalled Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's words at the inauguration of the event and stressed the need to devise plans to uplift Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backwards Classes and minorities.

On whether the Approach paper to the XIth plan had become a political paper rather than an economic document, Singh said the two aspects could not be separated as good economics makes good political sense. "An economic agenda which is not part of a political agenda is not worth discussing. We are not running a university here," Ahluwalia said.

The Planning Commission deputy chairman said one chief minister had proposed having a sub-plan for the minorities. "The Planning Commission will try best to address the issues raised by the Prime Minister. The 15-point plan for minorities has to be implemented," he stated.

Ahluwalia, who was briefing newsmen on the outcome of the National Development Council (NDC) meeting, said Rs 5 lakh crore were needed to generate 70,000 MW of additional electricity in the XIth Plan. "The chief ministers have to realise that transmission and distribution losses have to come down to 15 per cent from the present 40 per cent. This has been achieved in some cases," he added.

He disputed the argument that states lack funds for social sector programmes. The states have in fact parked close to Rs 45,000 crore in government debt at present. "It is not right to say State Governments do not have resources... As per the recent Reserve Bank of India data they have invested Rs 45,000 crore in Treasury Bills," he stated.

Ahluwalia was responding to queries about protests by states over change in funding pattern for literacy scheme 'Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan'. He said the proposal to reduce the Centre's shares in the scheme to 50 per cent from 75 per cent was envisaged when the plan was started.

Email Deepak Joshi: djoshi