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india Updated: Oct 29, 2006 00:12 IST
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As the State Government steps up preparations for the Eleventh Five-Year Plan, the foremost question on the minds of planners is how to put UP back on the road to development.

SUCCESSIVE FIVE-YEAR Plans have failed to achieve the desired results in Uttar Pradesh, which has witnessed political uncertainty over the years.

As the State Government steps up preparations for the Eleventh Five-Year Plan, the foremost question on the minds of planners is how to put Uttar Pradesh back on the road to development. True, there has been some improvement in the situation and the State has moved slightly forward during the 10th Five Year Plan. Yet, Uttar Pradesh ranks 12th among 15 major states on the Human Development Index. Despite having sent Prime Ministers to Parliament on a number of occasions, Uttar Pradesh is yet to become ‘Uttam Pradesh’.

So, where does the State lag behind? And what more needs to be done? Various working groups are already giving a final shape to recommendations that the State Government proposes to incorporate in the approach paper being formulated for the Eleventh Plan. The State Government proposes to set ambitious targets to bring down poverty, infant mortality and school dropout rates, increase the literacy rate and employment opportunities to bridge the gap between the per capita income in the State vis-à-vis the national average.

A close scrutiny reveals that Uttar Pradesh has failed to achieve its growth rate targets over the years. At the end of the Tenth Plan also, it may be able to achieve only 5.5 per cent to 6 per cent growth rate against the expected national average of 8 per cent. This may be considerably higher than the past figures, as the State’s growth rate has remained at a much lower level during the previous plans. Uttar Pradesh will have to set realistic, but high growth rate targets to reach close to the national average and bring a remarkable improvement in the situation.

Even if the State Government  adopts the national growth rate targets for Uttar Pradesh it will continue to remain backward vis-à-vis other States. Already, the growing gap between the per capita income of Uttar Pradesh vis-à-vis the national average has shown no signs of improvement. This gap will be at 51.3 per cent if Uttar Pradesh also adopts the national growth rate target of 9 per cent for itself. An increase of 5 per cent in the growth rate will bring down the gap by 10 per cent to 39 per cent. If the prevailing economic scenario and the performance of the State Government in the first three years of 10th Five Year Plan are taken into account, the State may not be able to mobilise additional resources to achieve a very high growth rate target.

So the State Government will also have to look for more avenues to mobilise additional resources to fund a big plan size. “We may set a target of above 10 per cent growth rate,” said a senior officer of the State Planning department. Asked how the State Government proposed to mobilse funds to achieve the high growth rate, the officer insisted that the focus would remain on public-private partnership during the Eleventh Plan. As the Eleventh Plan would begin from April 1, 2007 —after the Vidhan Sabha election — the new government in power may have to initiate some harsh measures to mobilise additional resources in the days to come. 

A high-powered committee, headed by the Industrial Development Commissioner (IDC) and with the PICUP MD as convenor, has been set up to consider proposals for the public-private partnership. The PICUP has already been appointed as the nodal agency to identify the projects for public-private sector partnership. The State Government is also formulating a ‘model concession agreement’ on the pattern of the model agreement that the Planning Commission has prepared to encourage the public-private sector partnership.

Significantly, poverty alleviation remains a major area of concern for the Eleventh Plan. So, the State Government proposes to bring down the poverty rate by 50 per cent during the Eleventh Plan period. A World Bank report recently indicated that the poverty rate in rural areas of UP had already come down 42.3 per cent to 28.5 per cent. In urban areas, too, the poverty rate has come down from 35.1 to 32.3 percent. About 4.9 crore persons are living below the poverty line in Uttar Pradesh and the number has to be brought down during the 11th plan period.

The State Government also proposes to achieve 100 percent literacy, universal enrolment and education for all children up to class VIII by 2012. Other targets being set in the education sector include upgradation of skills for children opting out of basic and secondary education and setting up of vocational schools all over the State. In the health sector, the State Government proposes to bring down the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) from 72 per thousand to 36 per thousand by 2012. The State Government also proposes to reduce the  percentage of malnutrition among women and children to less than 20 by 2012.

The mood in the corridors of power remains upbeat in view of the achievements on the plan expenditure front in 2005-2006. The State Government was able to earmark a sum of Rs 13,630 crore for expenditure during 2005-2006 against the annual plan outlay of Rs 13,500 crore.

This was for the first time that the State Government provided all the funds for its annual plan outlay, said principal secretary, Finance, Shekhar Aggarwal.

Principal secretary, Planning, V. Venkatachalam also asserted that the State Government hoped to achieve its fund mobilisation targets in the current year as well. According to special secretary, Planning, Arvind Narain Mishra, the Planning Commission was satisfied with the progress made on various fronts. Planning Commission member Kirit Parikh also held consultations with chief secretary Naveen Chand Bajpai and other senior officers of the State Government.

Notwithstanding the upbeat mood and the targets being set for the 11th plan, the rural-urban and the regional divide also poses a great challenge to the State Government. Ten decades of planned development have failed to bring down the levels of disparities between the various regions of the State. Various announcements made by governments to bridge the regional divide have proved to be empty rhetoric. If the statistics as given in the 10th plan document were to be relied on, there was a moderate gap of Rs 33.59 between the per capita monthly consumption expenditures in rural and urban areas in 1983. This gap nearly doubled to Rs 68.06 in 1987-88. As the rate of increase became sharper, the gap widened to about Rs 157.21 in 1997 during the Ninth Five Year Plan period. This also indicates that benefits of economic planning have not been evenly distributed to the rural and the urban areas.

There are indications that this trend has continued in the subsequent years. Four regions — eastern Uttar Pradesh, western Uttar Pradesh, central Uttar Pradesh and Bundelkhand — have unevenly distributed infrastructure facilities, industrial units and opportunities of employment. Eastern Uttar Pradesh and the Bundelkhand regions are among the most backward areas.

This is probably the main factor behind the growing demand for the further division of Uttar Pradesh. There are demands for creation of separate States, comprising the districts situated in eastern Uttar Pradesh, western Uttar Pradesh and the Bundelkhand region.

Uttaranchal, considered to be one of the backward regions, was carved out as a separate State in 2000. Though special attention is paid to backward regions in the planning process, problems continue to grow. The State Government has already created separate funds s – the Pooravanchal Vikas Nidhi and the Bundelkhand Vikas Nidhi for the development of the eastern Uttar Pradesh and the Bundelkhand region.