Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh on Sunday urged Prime Minister Narender Modi to increase central grants to Himachal Pradesh under Plan funds. Speaking after attending a meeting convened by Modi to set up a new body to replace the six decade old Planning Commission, he said the panel had played a key role in plan formulation for states.
“The present 15% of allocation of total Plan funds as block grants are too less to meet the development needs of states and it should be enhanced to at least 50%,” Virbhadra said, adding the plan panel should also continue to mediate between states and central ministries for resolving major issues.
He also disapproved the central government's move to delegate planning function to different ministries, saying it would result in loss of perspective and long term view.
“The differences in approach between the Planning Commission and the finance ministry were always useful in providing check and balances, since the Planning Commission always considered states' viewpoints in schemes and plans,” he added.
Highlighting environmental issues, the chief minister lauded the Planning Commission's initiatives for the hill state's development and livelihood issues. “A committee of the plan panel had recommended budgetary support for environmental services to these hill states on account of environmental services to the country,” he added.
Virbhadra also urged the central government to maintain the funding pattern followed by the Planning Commission. Since Himachal Pradesh comes under the special category of a hill state, the plan panel provided central assistance in the ratio 90:10 on the analogy of the northeastern states. He added all hill states had been declared as special category states by the National Developmental Council in order to fulfill peculiar developmental need and this had helped to carry out development in geographically tough areas.
The Planning Commission over the years helped the hill states in accelerating the pace of development by providing financial and technical assistance. It recognized the problems faced by hill states and made appropriate recommendations based on different studies to compensate for cost disabilities being experienced by them.
“The economies of hill states have been able to sustain themselves due to continuous support from the Planning Commission. The achievements made in the field of socioeconomic development in these hill states could be sustained only with the liberal financial assistance from the plan panel,” Virbhadra said.
However, of the total budget, 26% is kept under plan assistance further of which 15% is distributed to states under block grants. Block grants to states is further distributed as different parameters including the Gadgil Mukharjee formula, special plan assistance (SPA) for special category states and one time additional central assistance.