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District plan panels in snooze mode

Ranchi, Feb. 10: The State Development Plan for 2013-14 will not be able to reflect the picture in districts in all likelihood.

With the Assembly under suspension, the district planning committees (DPCs), which chalk out development plans, have become virtually non-functional. According to rules, chairperson of a DPC should be a minister, who is supposed to conduct board meetings. But with the President’s Rule in place, the ministers have lost their power to chair DPC board meetings.

Although there is a constitutional provision that the members can conduct the meeting with one of them presiding over it, only Chatra invoked the provision after imposition of President’s Rule in the state on January 19.

Asked whether this would affect the planning process, former minister for disaster management Gopal Krishna Patar, who was the chairperson of Simdega DPC, said “Constitutionally, it should not. But the fact is it is getting affected.”

He pointed out that in Simdega, the DPC had not been held after President’s Rule came into effect. “The Annual District Plan has to be prepared before March 31 so that the projects could be implemented from commencement of the next fiscal. The DPC now needs to work on a war footing to integrate village plans with that of the block’s and for its further consolidation, with the district’s,” Patar added.

Former chief minister Arjun Munda, who was chairperson of Deoghar DPC, said formation of the committee was mandated under the 74th Constitutional amendment to have a consolidated district plan that will reflect village-level micro-planning.

“The DPC is supposed to prepare the district plans in a consultative and participative manner from the bottom to the top level (gram sabha to the district level). I expected that Deoghar DPC would function in a serious manner. However, in my absence, the meeting has not been conducted though the members are aware of the provisions,” said Munda.

Sources in the panchayati raj department said DPC members in most districts were not aware of the process to call a meeting. In absence of the chairperson, the meeting has to be called by secretary of the committee, in this case the deputy commissioner. But the deputy commissioners, according to the source, are showing little interest.