The more developed among our states must now focus on development that is both inclusive and as uniform as possible. A peek beyond our biggest cities tells a sad tale of infrastructure while those cities themselves are no citadels of efficiency themselves. While Gujarat believes in its “Rurbanisation” programme, building city-standard infrastructure in its villages, Maharashtra’s villages have languished even as cities have sprouted.
Now, 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. The other members and the terms of reference for the committee will also be fixed soon. The committee will recommend measures to achieve a balanced growth and improve the human development index.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan believes that 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. As per a state government official, 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.
After the statutory development boards were formed, the governor had constituted an Indicators and Backlog Committee of the three development boards in October 1995. The government had, in principle, accepted the committee’s report in March 2000. The Indicators and 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.