The nation's highest policymaking body, the National Development Council (NDC), will focus on five key areas, including the Naxal menace, power reforms and water crisis, at its meeting on Saturday.
The NDC, which has been convened to approve the mid-term appraisal (MTA) of the 11th Plan, will also consider the main issues of the 12th Plan (2012-17), Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia told reporters last evening.
"A supplementary agenda note has been circulated and a more focused approach would be adopted in five critical areas --agriculture, tribal development (Naxalism),water management, urbanisation and power reforms," Ahluwalia said, adding the note has been prepared on the direction of the Prime Minister.
The mid-term appraisal, which had scaled down the average annual growth target for the 11th Plan from 9 to 8.1 per cent following the global financial crisis and the severe drought last year, has already been approved by the Cabinet.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who heads the NDC which comprises the chief ministers, Cabinet ministers and Plan panel members, had already suggested that growth rate for the 12th Plan be pegged at 10 per cent.
To deal with the Naxal problem, the Planning Commission would make a strong case for bridging "development deficit" in tribal areas. This will be for the first time that the NDC will be discussing the internal security problems like Naxalism.
For dealing with the water issue, Ahluwalia said there is a need for an integrated water policy because lot of GDP is water-intensive.
On free power to farmers, Ahluwalia said, "we have been consistently holding that the policy of giving free power to farmers is not the best way of helping them."
On the other hand, he suggested that a cess could be considered on power to prevent overdrawal of water in areas where the water table has depleted. The money collected, he added, can be used for creating infrastructure to recharge the water tables.
The excessive drawal of water, he regretted, "is leading to increase in salinity (in the water)...(it) actually contaminates the water, and as a result increases risk of cancer which is happening in Punjab."