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Plan panel stumped by bizarre bids

Ranchi, June 10: A day before home minister P. Chidambaram’s scheduled meeting with top state officials, deputy commissioners of 11 Naxalite-affected districts today drew flak from Planning Commission officials, here to give final shape to proposals worth Rs 1,100 crore for speedy development of red zones.

The bulk of the integrated action plan prepared by the concerned deputy commissioners was rejected during a meeting chaired by chief secretary A.K. Singh.

Planning Commission consultant Ranjan Chatterjee and a host of other commission officials were present during the over three-hour-long deliberations at the chief secretary’s office at Project Building. The plans were required to be prepared with the aim of providing immediate advantage to the people inhabiting rebel strongholds.

However, instead of focusing on precise needs of such areas like road and bridge connectivity, provision of drinking water facilities, improvement of health and education, self employment schemes and skill development of youths, the deputy commissioners appeared to have stumbled on the basics.

The suggestions ranged from the unnecessary to the impractical. Proposals to build an indoor and outdoor stadium in Latehar, cold storage facilities in Palamau, a tomato processing unit in Chatra (which is not a major tomato producing district), an ITI in several places found little favour.

Many suggestions of eight of the 11 districts were not considered fit for special central assistance by the Planning Commission, which is acting on the directive of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. “The deputy commissioners were advised to focus on basic needs and come out with fresh proposals,” a top state official, who was present during the crucial meeting, told The Telegraph.

Now a deadline of June 15 has been fixed for the deputy commissioners to rework the proposals. The fresh plans need to be submitted to the Planning Commission through the chief secretary.

Interestingly, many districts proposed plans worth over Rs 250 crore, despite the fact that Planning Commission would only consider proposals worth around Rs 100 crore for each district for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 fiscal.

Director (rural development) in the commission, T V Bhavadas, said many districts submitted proposals which were way out of context.

“Such deputy commissioners have been told to downsize their budget and focus on short-term benefits,” said Bhavadas, an Indian Economic Service official, in-charge of Lohardaga district.

Two rebel dens, Giridih and Khunti, have not been covered for the special package.

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