State Planning Commission holds consultation meeting in Madurai

In the last 10 years, cultivable land in the State has shrunk by a whopping five lakh hectares owing to urbanisation and industrialisation, resulting in agriculture and allied sectors registering 0.69 per cent growth in the first four years of the 11th Plan (2007-12) against the targeted four per cent.

To reverse this trend, the State Planning Commission (SPC) has proposed to ensure that impetus is given to vastly improve the farm sector and thereby enhance the economic status of farmers.

Its Member-Secretary K. Dhanavel and other members — V. Shanta, E. Balagurusamy, Christopher Nelson and K. Ramasamy — and officials met here on Monday at a regional consultation meeting. Collector U. Sagayam presided. Speaking to reporters, Mr. Dhanavel said that though the Gross Domestic Product of the State had witnessed an 8.06 per cent growth against the target of 9 per cent, sectors such as agriculture required thrust as it supported 40 per cent of the population.

At the meeting, Mr. Dhanavel said that Madurai residents want better infrastructure to spur development in the region. The modern airport terminal must provide international connectivity. Similarly, industries should be encouraged to set up their units along the Madurai-Tuticorin Highway. The power scenario must also be looked into if southern districts had to grow industrially.

Water bodies should be free from encroachments and officials should be made accountable for failures in the event of not achieving targets fixed in the Plan.

Laws must be strictly enforced to discourage conversion of cultivable lands into housing plots.

Dr. Shanta said that stress must be more on prevention than cure in the health sector. It must not only be accessible but also affordable for the common man.

“We talk about curability and not fatality. Sanitation, hygiene and disease awareness are some of the issues which need attention,” she replied to a query.

State Cancer Institute

Since the government was giving importance to cancer cure, a State Cancer Institute was being established for the benefit of people all over Tamil Nadu.

The Chief Minister, who is the Chairman of the SPC, was keen to make the State number one in the country.

The SPC had constituted 15 steering committees and 47 working groups to gather all inputs before its full sitting.

Other consultations

A meeting of this kind was held in Coimbatore earlier and more meetings had been planned in Tirunelveli (December 7), Cuddalore (December 13) and Tiruchi (December 15).

The 12th Five Year Plan would come into effect from April, Mr. Dhanavel said.