New Delhi: India’s apex planning body is deploying advisers for ground-level surveys to track the progress of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s welfare schemes in districts affected by Left-wing insurgency, as a means of curbing the spread of the rebel movement.
The Planning Commission has asked advisers to go to various state capitals and, through video conferencing with district magistrates and development commissioners, take stock of schemes such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana that’s committed to building rural roads, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan for universal education, and National Rural Health Mission.
Empowering locals: Villagers of Kasola in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh working in a project under the rural employment guarantee programme. The state is one of the six with the most rural poor in 2004-05. Pradeep Gaur/Mint
“The secretary, Planning Commission (Sudha Pillai), is closely monitoring (the) progress of these Centrally-sponsored schemes, especially in Naxal-afflicted areas,” said an official closely associated with the development. “For this, she has asked all advisers to go and take stock of the progress by associating themselves with the road secretaries and rural development secretaries of various states, and video conference with local officers in around 36 such districts.”
The advisers have been asked to complete the exercise in a month, said the official, who didn’t want to be identified.
These programmes are executed by the respective ministries, but the Planning Commission too keeps a tab on their progress.
Their implementation in districts with high Naxal activity is also monitored by the office of Union cabinet secretary K. M. Chandrasekhar.
A recent report shows that six states with the most rural poor in 2004-05 are coincidentally plagued by Naxal insurgency, which the UPA government has said is the biggest internal threat to the country.
The six states are Orissa, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Maharashtra.
The report was authored by an expert group appointed by the Planning Commission and chaired by Suresh Tendulkar, former chairman of the National Statistical Commission.
S.L. Rao, former director general of the National Council of Applied Economic Research, said the Planning Commission’s decision to deploy advisers for ground-level surveys in such regions will help draw a reality check on the progress of various development programmes.
“No doubt it is difficult to implement any programme in districts with high insurgency, but it is all the more necessary to implement them there so that people there feel empowered,” he said. “I think its an excellent idea that these advisers, who just do theoretical work sitting in the Planning Commission, interact with district collectors, etc., and help them implement these programmes.”