Niti Ayog asks Uttarakhand to boost service sector for growth
In what might lead to a “tectonic shift” in Uttarakhand’s development paradigm Niti Ayog vice chairman Rajiv Kumar has asked the state government to shift its focus on strengthening the core service sectors like horticulture, farm and tourismdehradun Updated: Nov 17, 2017 18:39 IST
In what might lead to a “tectonic shift” in Uttarakhand’s development paradigm Niti Ayog vice chairman Rajiv Kumar has asked the state government to shift its focus on strengthening the core service sectors like horticulture, farm and tourism.
The planning body would “also help resolve the fund crunch facing the key sectors” owing to the changed funding pattern, Kumar assured during his interaction with officials here recently.
Finance secretary Amit Negi admitted that the Niti Ayog suggested that the state government “needs” to focus more on the service sector.
“They asked us to strengthen the service sector including tourism, horticulture and farm, so the development gets a further boost without causing damage to the fragile hills,” he said.
“We will now reframe our policies for those sectors (tourism, horticulture and agriculture etc) so that they get a boost.”
During the interaction, officials also brought to Kumar’s notice the severe fund crunch the state has been facing in the infrastructure, education and other sectors.
Those sectors “are dogged” by the severe shortage of funds following a change in the funding pattern after Niti Ayog replaced the planning commission, said a top source.
According to him, Kumar assured that he would help resolve the financial crunch facing the state government owing to the changed funding pattern. “He (Kumar) assured that he would take up the issue with the BJP-led government at the Centre,” the source said.
The manufacturing sector “is dogged” by a severe fund crunch despite an increase in the state’s share in the central taxes from 32% to 42%.
The Centre increased the share by 10% as per the 14th finance commission recommendations.
“But this increase in funds failed to boost the manufacturing sector because the Centre stopped block grants that we used to get under three heads”, a source in the planning department said referring to the Normal Central Assistance, Special Central Assistance and Special Plan Assistance.
Incidentally, the previous Congress regime too repeatedly took up the issue of fund crunch with the BJP-led Centre. In fact, the then ruling party had even made the shortage of funds one of its main poll planks in the assembly polls.
But the problem “persists” despite the BJP ruling both in the state and at the Centre. Officials also took up with Kumar the issue of 34% of the hydropower projects planned for the state pending for the past several years.
“These projects, which are a major source of revenue for us are in limbo owing to orders by the National Green Tribunal and the Supreme Court,” the source said adding the apex court had already directed the Centre to resolve the issue of the pending hydropower projects.
“During our interaction with Kumar we urged him to remind the Centre about the order in question”, he clarified. “Its (Centre) intervention was also sought on the issue of the Centre’s order notifying the Bhagirathi valley as an Eco Sensitive Zone (ESZ), which has hampered development in that region.”
Officials said Kumar had assured that some relaxations might be granted on the ESZ issue on the pattern of the Western Ghats.
When contacted, additional secretary, planning Ranjit Kumar Sinha said the long pending issues pertaining to forest clearances were brought to the notice of the Niti Ayog chairman.
Citing an example, he clarified that it was incumbent for the state government to deposit the Net Present Value of the forestland obtained for various projects.
“Besides, in lieu of that (forestland) we also have to part with double the land, elsewhere,” he said. “We, therefore, urged the Niti Ayog to relax the related rules.”
First Published: Nov 17, 2017 18:39 IST