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Eleventh Plan set in motion

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Plan matters: Union Panchayati Raj Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar, Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac at the launch of the People’s Planning in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday. —
Plan matters: Union Panchayati Raj Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar, Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac at the launch of the People’s Planning in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday. —

Special Correspondent

Strengthen local bodies for inclusive growth: Aiyar

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Union Panchayati Raj Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar has called for steps to bring Panchayati Raj institutions to the mainstream for translating accelerated growth into inclusive growth.

Inaugurating the Eleventh Plan process of the State here on Friday, Mr. Aiyar said the benefits of economic growth were reaching the rich disproportionately. Equitable growth was needed to protect a democratic polity. Funds for development projects were being eaten up by the delivery mechanism. The funds apportioned for development should reach the people.

Prime instrument

The Minister said that local self-government institutions should be put at the centre of Centrally sponsored schemes. They should be made the prime instrument of implementing such schemes. Political parties and society should be part of Pachayati Raj institutions and they should not dominate these institutions. He exhorted elected members of local bodies not to emulate MLAs and MPs. At present, Kerala had a pre-eminent position in decentralised planning. But other States were trying to surpass its achievements and Kerala would have to strive hard to retain its position. While planning the Constitution amendment for decentralisation of powers, the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was influenced by the experiments in West Bengal, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat. Kerala came from a low position and emerged successful. But it should try to increase the share of funds reaching the people. The Centre had commissioned A.C. Nielsen to conduct a study on the status of women in local bodies. He urged the State Government to conduct a similar study.

No central backing: VS

Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, in his presidential address, said that even while the Centre was lauding Kerala as a model of decentralisation of powers, it was not giving enough financial support and encouragement to the State, but, in fact, punishing it [for its achievements]. This was obvious in the finance commission awards. The awards of the finance commissions were fixed without considering the funds devolved by the Government. This neglect of the State was feared in the case of the agriculture package announced by the Prime Minister as well. This was against the spirit of decentralisation of powers, he said.

Local Administration Minister Paloli Mohammed Kutty said that when the State devolved powers to the local bodies, the Centre too should give more powers to the States. Decentralised planning should have uniformity. The norms of Centrally sponsored schemes should be amended considering the unique characteristics of the State so that it could be implemented more effectively.

Law Minister M. Vijayakumar welcomed the gathering. Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac offered felicitations.

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