Greater Convergence is Required Among Departments, says Dr Raman Singh, Chief Minister, Chhattisgarh

31 Oct 2011

Raipur - A day-long consultation on decentralized governance, and participatory district planning in Chhattisgarh was organised by the State Planning Commission, under the ambit of the UN-GoI Joint Convergence Programme and the UNDP Capacity Development for District Planning project.

"Chhattisgarh aspires to not only be at par with the nationalaverage in progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, but to alsoachieve a level of human development attainment comparable to the highest humandevelopment achievers such as Kerala," said Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh,Raman Singh. He was addressing a day-long consultation organised by the StatePlanning Commission, Chhattisgarh under the ambit of the UN-GoI JointConvergence Programme and the United Nations Development Programme CapacityDevelopment for District Planning project in Raipur today.

While efforts to decentralize planning can be traced back tothe first Five-year Plan (1951-56), according to the Chief Minister, the 73rdand 74th Constitutional Amendments significantly altered the push towardsdecentralization. The Chief Minister also stressed that the performances ofstates such as Punjab, Gujarat, Haryana were not comparable to other statessuch as Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh given the very distinctive featuresof each State. As the Minister pointed out, the geographic area of Bastardistrict alone is larger than Kerala with around 35 percent of the populationliving below the poverty line and 56 percent of the land area under forestcover. “Resources are not being distributed according to the needs ofindividual states and greater convergence is required among differentdepartments to reduce duplication of resources and ensure the benefits ofdevelopment reach the poorest,” he added. The consultation is part of thebroader efforts to create an enabling environment in the state to further decentralizedgovernance, and encourage integrated, participatory and decentralized districtplanning. The Government of India and United Nations joint programme onConvergence brings together the National Planning Commission, PlanningDepartments, UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA in seven states and 35 districts across thecountry. Implemented in Chhattisgarh since 2009, it aims to improve capacitiesfor participatory planning, analyzing budget and resource flows, humanresources, assessing bottlenecks in implementation of flagship programmes andstrengthening monitoring systems. The project aims to secure support forimplementation of national policy to decentralize the planning process in Chhattisgarh;identify problem areas and possible solutions for effective decentralizeddistrict planning to ensure participation, especially of excluded groups; andsensitize state and district government officials to ensure that district plansare inclusive and participatory and can be effectively linked to state’s annualplans.

According to Shri Shivraj Singh, Vice Chairman, StatePlanning Commission, “The State Planning Commission has made efforts tostrengthen district planning as a result of which all 18 districts aresubmitting district plans.” Of critical importance is to develop capacities fordecentralized planning, and in partnership with UNDP, regional consultations,district  sensitization programmes, andtraining of master trainers, 1200 Panchayat secretaries in 44 blocks andexposure visits were organised. According to the Vice Chairman, data collectionmechanisms Village Index Card/Urban Index Card piloted in Mahasamund districtwill be replicated in other districts too. Shri Singh acknowledged UNDP’ssupport in developing capacities for district planning and thanked the Chief Guest,special guest and resource persons for their valuable inputs during theconsultation.

Congratulating Dr. Raman Singh on improvements in educationand health over the last decade, Ms Caitlin Wiesen, Country Director, UNDPIndia said, "Never has it been more important to promote decentralisedplanning if we are to ensure growth is truly inclusive of those most marginalised.Several steps including establishing district planning and monitoring units inall district planning committees; undertaking planning keeping in mindavailable resources and using District Human Development Reports to informplanning processes can go a long way in achieving decentralized governance inthe State.” Ms. Wiesen highlighted several initiatives undertaken by UNDP withState Planning Commission in Chhattisgarh state like capacity development fordistrict planning, preparation of Gender sub-planning in Korba district as partof the district plan, PESA study, primary data collection mechanism Villageindex card, and a People’s Assessment of Health, Education and Livelihoods,PAHELI, a community-based monitoring tool to capture people’s perceptions on servicedelivery. She encouraged the State Government to finalise District Humandevelopment Reports as a key situation analysis tool for planning. She alsocongratulated the State Planning Commission and Nodal department for theimplementation of GOI-UN Joint Program on Convergence. She expressed hope thatthese initiatives and the workshop will lead to the “next generation of plansthat are linked to the needs of the people they are intended to serve at all levels– panchayat, block, district and state.”

The other participants at the consultation included Shri P.Joy Oommen, Chief Secretary, Government of Chhattisgarh, Shri Ajay Singh,Principal Secretary, Finance and Planning, Shri P.C.Mishra, Secretary Planningand Member Secretary, State Planning Commission, Additional Chief Secretaries,Principal Secretaries, Secretaries, Collectors, CEOs, Heads of Departments andUN representatives. Dr.S.S.Meenakshisundaram, IAS (Retd.), Former Secretary,Govt. of India and Shri S.M. Vijayanand, IAS, Additional Chief Secretary, Govt.of Kerala were the key resource persons of the programme. Shri Ajay Singh,Principal Secretary welcomed all the participants and shared the objectives of theprogramme. Dr.S.S.Meenakshisundaram, IAS (Retd.), Former Secretary, Govt. ofIndia gave a presentation on decentralised planning, its process, history, strategies,merits of decentralized planning, some key issues and possible solutions withpractical examples. Shri S.M. Vijayanand, IAS, Additional Chief Secretary,Govt. of Kerala shared the actions taken and systems instituted in Kerala fordecentralized district planning such as increased thrust on education,availability of up to 25 percent untied funds to Panchyats, greatertransparency and establishment of an ombudsman to address complains withrespect to local governance.

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