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Growth for all on CM lips

Patna, Nov. 24: Linking the fate of Bihar with the rest of the country, chief minister Nitish Kumar today demanded that the Centre change the paradigm of plans and policies for overall growth and prosperity.

At the same time, Nitish, who was releasing the annual report card of his government, reeled off facts and figures to showcase the state’s progress in all sectors, including key ones such as administration, fiscal management, health, education, road, agriculture and industries.

“I demand a complete shift in the paradigm of approaching the measures to carry out growth and development,” Nitish said. “It is time for the policy makers to mull on why the country, which achieved eight to nine per cent growth rate, has suddenly been struggling with a fall to five per cent or even lower.”

The chief minister, who completes seven years in power on Monday, pointed out that India was dependent on a few prosperous states. “It (The central government) has adopted policies that have created islands of development rather than achieving the goal of inclusive growth,” he said.

Nitish suggested greater inclusive growth. “The rulers and policy-makers at the national level must formulate policies to help other states — backward in terms of human development index and other parameters — achieve a national average of growth in all parameters,” he said.

“India can never be dubbed a developed country till Bihar stays backward or till all backward states achieve the national average of growth,” he said. “Our demand for special category status is very much linked to overall growth of the country.”

Nitish then went on to enumerate in detail the efforts of his government to ensure Bihar’s development in sectors such as power, road, health, agriculture, education and infrastructure building and asked the people to be “patient”.

“Have patience,” the chief minister said. “We were consistently working to set the things right in the state, which has suffered from governance deficit for so long.”

One of the biggest challenges he faces is in power and Nitish has vowed not to seek votes if he can’t improve the situation by 2015. “Our efforts to modernise and upgrade the Barauni and Kanti thermal power plants would bear results. Work on the 3,300MW Nabinagar power project in cooperation with NTPC is in progress. We signed an agreement to buy power on long-term basis from the market. Day in and day out we are working to improve the power scenario,” he said.

Nitish, who rode the success on the road front during the 2010 Assembly elections, announced a new scheme for the crucial sector. Called the Mukhya Mantri Gram Sampark Yojana (CM village connectivity scheme), it is aimed at linking all villages with a population of 250 or more with roads in the next five years. Under the scheme, the state will have 36,114km of roads at a cost of Rs 23,887 crore.

Nitish touched upon the issue of corruption, a major peeve among the people, especially in the hinterlands. “We were the first in fully implementing the right to service act which has benefited as many as 2.5 crore people in the last 15 months. We have zero tolerance for corruption,” he said.