Proposes an “ACTIONS” plan as guiding principle for 12th Plan

Union Minister of Rural Development Jairam Ramesh has proposed an “ACTIONS” plan as the guiding principle for the 12th Five Year Plan, putting off the Planning Commission's suggestion to axe Centrally sponsored schemes and give States a free hand to chart their path of development.

After his meeting with Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia on Saturday, Mr. Ramesh told The Hindu of the discussion they had on how to proceed with what he described as the “9/90” activities of the department where 9 stands for its nine flagship programmes and 90 for the Rs. 90,000 crore budgetary provision.

The Minister said Mr. Ahluwalia favoured pooling the budgetary provisions of all these flagship programmes into one single initiative with a corpus of Rs. 90,000 crore and giving the funds to the States based on the assessment of each State's requirement.

The States would be left to decide on the priority areas to suit their requirements — it could be roads for some, water for others and for some others it could be skill development. The States can spend as they want.

But the Minister stressed that the 12th plan — which will run from 2012 to 2017 — be used as a transition period so as to prepare the ground for Mr. Ahluwalia's proposal to take root with the beginning of the 13th Five Year Plan commencing from 2017.

For the 12th Plan, Mr. Ramesh suggested “ACTIONS,” the acronym standing for accountability, convergence, transparency, innovations, outcomes, next generation and sustainability.

He said the thrust would be on land and water productivity for economic and ecological considerations. Everything has to be sustainable environmentally and for the benefit of the next generation, he contended.

The two of them decided to identify what initiatives they should take and meet after a month for further discussion. Mr. Ramesh noted that this was the first time Mr. Ahluwalia had visited the office of a Union Minister and interacted with the Secretaries of the departments of rural development, land resources, and water and sanitation.

Mr. Ramesh also held a meeting with members of the National Advisory Committee, which is headed by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, and discussed the issue of land acquisition and rehabilitation and resettlement.

The internal meeting aimed at arriving at a convergence on various issues, he clarified. The second round of consultations would be held on Tuesday.

The Minister said he would consult the States and take all stakeholders on board by putting the proposed Bill in public domain, which would accelerate industrialisation and urbanisation while protecting the interests of the farmers and those whose livelihoods were affected by any displacement.

He said industrialisation and urbanisation were inevitable and his efforts would be at reconciliation of conflicting interests and see what was desirable.