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December 22, 2009

Planning Commission looking to reinvent itself

Going forward, the Commission could act as “a coach or consultant” to state governments and help them manage resources better


22 December 2009

Aveek Datta, Kolkata:

The Planning Commission is looking to reinvent itself by expanding its role from only drawing five-year growth plans for the country and determining fund allocation for each sector, according to Arun Maira, a member of the panel and former chairman of the Indian arm of consulting firm Boston Consulting Group.

Going forward, the Commission, which was set up in 1950 to drive economic growth and ensure efficient use of resources, could act as “a coach or consultant” to state governments and help them manage resources better, Maira said on the sidelines of a seminar organized by the Confederation of Indian Industries, or CII in Kolkata on Tuesday.

The Commission is exploring ways of setting up a “knowledge bank of best practices” adopted by state governments for development of sectors such as healthcare, education and industry. “This knowledge could then be shared and all states would benefit from it,” Maira added.

Meanwhile, the Commission is also considering ways of revamping land acquisition laws, most of which were promulgated during the British Raj. The government should not intervene with land acquisition anymore, and private companies should be asked to buy land on their own, Maira said.

However, there are instances of resistance from few people holding up land acquisitions by private companies. To resolve such situations, India should have a law under which it would be compulsory for all people to sell their land if a company manages to acquire say 90% of the project area, Maira added. But for such law to be effective, “it is essential that private companies are responsible for the fairness of compensation offered to land losers”.

The Union government is planning to introduce new land acquisition laws and all these issues are being considered by the Planning Commission. However, it could take up to two-three years to revamp the archaic land acquisition laws, Maira added.