May 30: The annual plan for Jharkhand (2003-04) was finalised today at a meeting between Planning Commission deputy chairman K.C. Pant and chief minister Arjun Munda. The plan outlay was agreed at Rs 2,935.85 crore, including an additional Central assistance of Rs 8.09 crore for the government’s priority schemes.
Pant welcomed Munda by saying the state has immense potential for industrialisation. “The need was to simplify procedures, involve people in development process, institutionalise monitoring and evaluation mechanism for successful implementation of plan projects.”
Pointing to the low productivity and limited irrigation facility, Pant advised that the state should work towards diversifying crop patterns and encouraging horticulture and floriculture.
The plan panel chief stressed on the need to reform and restructure the power sector. “A state electricity regulatory commission should be set up without further delay. Focus should also be on rural electrification as about 26,000 villages are yet to be electrified,” he said.
In his presentation before Pant, Munda said till date, at least 54 per cent of the state’s population lives below the poverty line, 60 per cent of the villages are not connected by roads, literacy levels are as low as 54 per cent while power is yet to reach 85 per cent of the villages in the state.
The chief minister said while drafting the 2003-04 annual plan, priority had been given to build a sound infrastructure base beginning with the interior villages and rapid manpower planning and development.
Giving details of plan outlays for the various departments, Munda said in a bid to control the growing extremist menace in the state, Rs 500 crore would be spent on a priority basis in the next five years for constructing a strong road network across the extremist-infested areas.
The chief minister pleaded for an additional Rs 100-crore Central aid for the project.
Munda said the government had earmarked Rs 130.5 crore in addition to the Central aid under the Prime Minister’s rural roads scheme to connect all villages to the main roads in the next three to seven years.