The National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog, which replaced the Planning Commission a year ago, is putting in place a structure as its role becomes clear. A platform for interaction between the states and the Centre, the Aayog has identified land leasing, land titling and the Right To Education Act as areas to engage in.
Officials said land leasing was of importance in building a clear and non-controversial source of income for the rural population and changes in rules that governed the Right To Education Act would allow private players greater flexibility. (THEN AND NOW)
Work has also been distributed among the vice-chairman and the three members of the Aayog. Vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya will look after the perspective planning division, financial resources, international economics, international relations, centrally sponsored schemes, project appraisal, state plan coordination, development monitoring and evaluation office, development policy, and research and administration. He will also handle the ministries of information technology and communications, corporate affairs, environment, forests, finance, home affairs, human development, labour, small and medium enterprises, renewable energy, overseas affairs, personnel, petroleum and natural gas, and power.
Economist Bibek Debroy will handle infrastructure and the voluntary action cell with ministries of the railways, road transport and highways, rural development, housing and poverty alleviation, law and justice, social justice, shipping, tribal affairs and woman and child development.
Besides Debroy, the Aayog has two other members, V K Saraswat and Ramesh Chand. States, too, have been divided among the three members. Debroy will be responsible for 12 states and Saraswat 11 along with central ministries of coal, culture, defence, earth sciences, heavy industries, information and broadcasting. Newly appointed Chand will be responsible for Bihar, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Karnataka, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh along with central ministries like commerce, water resources, agriculture, chemicals, food, and food processing.
The divisions in the Aayog aligned with ministries like information technology and communications, labour and minerals will be handled by members who are allocated these ministries. Chand will, therefore, handle the agriculture division in the Aayog and will also be responsible for the ministry. The members and the vice-chairman will be assisted by consultants drawn from outside the government and young professionals. Their recruitment is on.
"For appointment of experts from outside the government, some changes in the rules have to be made, work on which is on. On young professionals, we are in the final stages of sorting applications," an official said.
He added Panagariya and the three members had started touring states to push land leasing, land titles and changes in the rules of the Right to Education Act. The idea is to meet key officials in the states to discuss the reform plan.
On land leasing, the Aayog has constituted a 10-member committee, headed by T Haque, former chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, to review tenancy laws of states. The panel will have representation from Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Maharashtra, Assam, Rajasthan and Meghalaya.
On amendments to the Right to Education Act, officials said private schools were finding it difficult to comply with provisions of the law, and states would be encouraged to amend rules to give them greater flexibility. They added modifications would be made only in the rules that governed the Act and not in the Act as such. On land titling, officials said it could be easily done after a survey of titles. "Gujarat has done it and we have a readymade model. Besides the department of land resources does provide funding for this," another official said.