The Telegraph
Tuesday , May 6 , 2014
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Plan panel pat for ‘young state’

Ranchi, May 5: A four-member team of the Planning Commission today said the panel was serious about development of Jharkhand and lauded the performance of the newly created state despite odds.

Panel member K. Kasturirangan, who was leading the team that arrived in Jharkhand yesterday for a two-day tour, urged state officials to make full use of central funds meant for the welfare of the people.

Kasturirangan held two rounds of closed-door meetings with state officials last night and this morning and met chief minister Hemant Soren at his residence today.

“The state government has given us some tasks… it has asked for help in priority sectors like agriculture, water resources, finance and infrastructure. We will certainly look into the demands,” the plan panel member, who is in-charge of Jharkhand, said at the chief minister’s official residence on Kanke Road.

After the meeting, the chief minister said, “The state has presented its case to the central team and sought its assistance in sectors like agriculture, infrastructure etc.”

Officials, who were privy to the meeting, conceded that Hemant had also sought more royalty from the Centre against the state’s rich mineral resources.

This apart, the chief minister stressed the need for a bridge on the Ganga river in Sahebganj district, which shares borders with both Bengal and Bihar.

He pointed out that Jharkhand had not benefited much from institutions, like the railways, CCL and DVC, though they have major stakes in the state. Further, the chief minister demanded a National Institute of Forest Management in Jharkhand.

Today’s meeting mainly focused on agriculture, fisheries and animal husbandry departments. Officials presented a vision document on agriculture, stressing the need to increase production of rabi crops, and cope with acidic soil. It also focused on allied sectors, like floriculture, horticulture, fisheries, dairy etc.

The plan panel team, on the other hand, emphasised on early completion of irrigation projects, like Subernarekha Multipurpose Project, for which the Centre might give grants up to 75 per cent.

According to sources, Kasturirangan advised state officials to submit proposals as well as fund utilisation certificates to the Centre in time.

“He said that the first installment of funds for any central project must reach the state before September of every fiscal. So, state mandarins must complete all preparations in advance to facilitate timely release of funds. Otherwise, the state’s share in central funds will automatically decrease and other states, which work in a time-bound manner, will reap more benefits from the central assistance,” a senior IAS officer said.