The Maharashtra government has roped in Vijay Kelkar, chairman of the 13th Finance Commission, to head a committee on alternative approaches to balanced regional development. This is the second such committee, after one chaired by VM Dandekar had submitted its report in 1984.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan told Business Standard, “Kelkar has agreed to head the committee. The other members will be decided soon. The terms of reference for the committee will also be fixed soon.” He said it is imperative to revisit the issues of backlog and equitable distribution of developmental expenditure with a fresh insight and to explore alternative approaches of ensuring the equitable allocation of resources.
Kelkar, while confirming his decision to head the committee, said, “The government has yet to decide the terms of reference of the committee. The committee will recommend measures to achieve a balanced growth and improve the human development index.”
A state government official said the present methodology of focusing on backlog estimation, which stipulates that all the regions are to be brought to the same level of development, does not take into account the needs and development opportunities of various regions in order to achieve a balanced regional development. This is essential, especially when certain districts in Vidarbha and Marathwada continue to be starved of development, while areas in and around Mumbai, Thane, Nashik and Pune continue to develop.
The official recalled that the Dandekar committee had identified a backlog of Rs 3186.78 crore Accordingly, the 1985-86 annual plan had allocated a special outlay for different sectors to remove the backlog. Under Article 371(2), the President had entrusted a special responsibility on the Governor of Maharashtra to set up development boards of Vidarbha, Marathwada and the rest of Maharashtra. These boards were constituted on 25 June, 1994.
After the statutory development boards were formed, the governor had constituted an Indicators & Backlog Committee of the three development boards on 8 October, 1995. The government had, in principle, accepted the committee’s report in March, 2000. The Indicators & Backlog Committee worked out a fresh backlog of Rs 15,355.77 crore. The government has made several region-wise and sector-wise allocations in its annual plan and budget proposals.