Objective is to find out to what extent Centrally-sponsored programmes have benefited the people
Udhagamandalam: A comprehensive scheme to evaluate the functioning of the centrally-sponsored Hill Area Development Programme and the Western Ghats Development Programme (WGDP) has been set in motion by the Union Planning Commission.
Pointing out that about Rs. 300 crore were being expended every year on implementing the WGDP and the HADP in about 159 taluks of five states, the Joint Adviser, Union Planning Commission, K.N. Pathak, told media persons here on Friday that it had been felt that it was high time a detailed study of their impact on stake holders was made.
The main objective was to find out to what extent they had benefited the people especially those at the grassroots level. While the WGDP was in existence for over thirty years in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra and Goa, the HADP was being implemented since 1975 in the Nilgiris, Karbi Anglona and North Cachar in Assam and Darjeeling in West Bengal.
In Tamil Nadu the WGDP was being implemented in Coimbatore, Erode, Dindigul, Theni, Madurai, Virudhunagar, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari. While the total annual outlay for the eight districts was Rs. 18 crore under the WGDP, it was Rs. 35 crore for the Nilgiris alone under the HADP.
Stating that steps were being taken to streamline the functioning of the two programmes, he said that though the outlay proposed for the Nilgiris under the HADP during the next fiscal was Rs. 50 crore and allocation for various places under the WGDP was also likely to go up proportionately, mere enhancement of funds was not enough to produce the desired results. The UPC was for convergence of programmes and funds. Development and conservation should go hand-in-hand. The scheme to evaluate the programmes and monitor their functioning would also go into the practical problems faced by the implementing agencies and officials.
The task has been entrusted to a Thiruvananthapuram-based Social and Market Research Group, Network for Research, Management and Action (NORMA).
Pointing out that there were as many as 155 centrally-sponsored schemes and 1200 central sector schemes with an annual outlay of about Rs. 60,000 crore, Mr. Pathak said that it was very difficult to keep track of them constantly. The evaluation of the HADP and the WGDP had been under consideration for over one year.
The Executive Engineer, NORMA, K.V. Vinoy John said that the investigators had been handpicked. The evaluation would be completed within three months. While18 taluks, 38 watersheds and 1140 beneficiaries would be covered in areas where the WGDP was being implemented, the HADP in the Nilgiris would be evaluated by covering twelve watersheds, seventy two projects and 360 beneficiaries.
The Project Director, HADP, C. Samayamoorthy said that a thrust area under the programme was prevention of bad farm practices.