Niti Aayog: Old wine in new bottle

  • Moushumi Das Gupta and Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Feb 13, 2015 01:10 IST

The Planning Commission may have been scrapped through a Cabinet resolution last December, but its replacement, the Niti Aayog, continues to perform many of its roles, barring the core role of funds allocation.

If earlier, the Project Appraisal Management Division of the Planning Commission appraised proposals sent by central ministries before they went to the finance ministry and then to the Cabinet, the Niti Aayog does that job now, a senior government official said.

The Niti Aayog, branded a ‘think tank’, has cleared at least three proposals worth Rs 10,000 crore since it was set up on January 1 (see box).

"All projects worth Rs 1,000 crore or more have to be sent to the Niti Aayog for appraisal. It’s only after the project is appraised that it goes to the finance ministry’s Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) for approval. In fact, the appraisal note prepared by the Aayog forms the basis for EFC approval," a senior government official said.

However, unlike the Planning Commission, the new body does not have the power to allocate funds to states or to recommend plan budgets to the finance ministry. It also doesn’t approve annual plans of the state governments and union territories. This job has been handed over to the finance ministry.

The Niti Aayog still handles the infrastructure division that was set up at the Planning Commission during UPA rule to monitor the performance of infrastructure projects. It also continues to approve funds for states under the Backward Regions Grant Fund and Bundelkhand Package. It also continues to work with the tribal affairs ministry on new tribal policy and will hold an inter-ministerial consultation on highways.

Like its predecessor, the Niti Aayog also acts as a dispute resolver between different ministries.

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