9th Five Year Plan (Vol-2)
Special Area Programmes
9.1 Special Area Programmes have been formulated to deal with the special problems faced by certain areas arising out of their distinct geo-physical structure and concomitant socio-economic development. Planning and Development of an area within the state is primarily the responsibility of the concerned State Governments. However, the Central Government is supplementing the efforts of the State Governments in this direction through Special Central Assistance under the programmes such as Hill Area Development Programme (HADP) and Western Ghats Development Programme (WGDP), North Eastern Council (NEC), Border Area Development Programme (BADP),Desert Develop-ment Programme (DDP) and Drought Prone Area Programme (DPAP).Funds under Special Area Programmes are meant to deal with the specific problems of these areas. Hence Special Plan strategies are formulated and schemes drawn up by the State Governments keeping in view the basic needs of the people and existing environmental considerations.
I. Hill Areas Development Programme (HADP) :
A. Historical Background:
9.2 The hill areas of the country particularly the Himalayan and the Western Ghats regions support the basic life giving natural resources but they have very fragile and sensitive eco-systems. The need to conserve natural resources and the environment, particularly to prevent damage to fragile and irreplaceable eco-systems necessitated the inception of Hill Area Development Programme (HADP) during the Fifth Five Year Plan. It was also aimed at balanced regional development.
9.3 The approach and the strategy of the HADP has been evolving over time. The programmes implemented during the Fifth Plan period were mainly beneficiary oriented. While the emphasis shifted to eco-development in the Sixth Plan, the general tenor of HADP remained substantially the same as that of the normal State Plan following the same sectoral approach. The Seventh Plan laid particular emphasis on the development of ecology and environment as summed up in three phrases, namely, eco-restoration, eco-preservation, and eco-development. It aimed at evolving plans and programmes to take care of socio-economic growth, development of infrastructure and promotion of ecology of the areas covered by the HADP. During the Eighth Plan attention was focussed on productive sectors of the hill economies specially in modernising agricultural practices and small scale industries at household, cottage, and village levels. For this involvement of people was considered of paramount importance.The aim was to meet the actual basic needs of the people through improved management of the land and water resources.
B. Problems of Hill Areas :
9.4 Major environmental problems being faced by Hills are deforestation and soil-erosion, which are leading to the drying up of water resources, flash floods and decline in the yield of food and cash crops, fodder, fuel and other minor forest produce. Similarly, poverty in the hills is another problem area which is directly related to the shortages of materials for basic subsistence, especially where under the traditional land and water management system, the capacity of land to support the population has already been exceeded. Intensive human and livestock pressures along with indiscriminate felling of trees for commercial purposes in many hill areas have already led to loss of soil and rapid depletion and destruction of forest cover. Besides, water retention capacity and productivity of land have been adversely affected. These factors have impaired the ecology significantly and also resulted in deterioration in the economic condition for the hill people. Traditional agricultural practices, especially shifting cultivation, have also contributed to destruction of forests and soil erosion. Seemingly harmless activity such as prolonged grazing by livestock, especially goats and sheep, have further exposed many hill areas to serious ecological degradation. Development activities like construction of buildings, roads, dams, large and medium industries and mining etc., have aggravated environmental problems. Consequently, perennial sources of water such as springs and small streams have dried up in many areas. The major challenge, therefore, is to devise suitable location-specific solutions, so as to reverse the process and ensure sustainable development of the growing population and ecology of the hill areas.
C. Classification of Hill Areas
9.5 The responsibility for balanced social and economic development of the hill areas rests primarily with the concerned State Governments.
9.6 The hill areas of the country fall broadly into the following two categories :
(i) Areas which are co-terminus with the boundaries of the State of Union Territory, i.e., Hill States / Union Territories, namely, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram.
(ii) Areas which form part of a State (which are termed as Designated Hill Areas) covered under the HADP, are the areas identified in 1965 by a Committee of the National Development Council (NDC) and those recommended by the High Level Committee for Western Ghats in 1972. HADP would continue to be implemented during the Ninth Plan, only in those areas where it is already under operation namely:
9.7 The area and population of the Hill States and the Designated Hill Areas are detailed in Table 9.1.
D. Pattern of Funding
9.8 The Hill States mentioned in para 9.6 (i) above are called `Special Category States'. The Central Assistance for their development plans is pre-empted from the divisible pool before making allocations from it to the other States categorised as `Non-Special Category States'. The Central Assistance is also given on liberal basis with 90% as grant and 10% as loan to Special Category States compared to 30% grant and 70% loan for other states.
9.9 In order to benefit the hill areas which form parts of states,Special Central Assistance (SCA) is given under HADP. SCA provided for HADP is additive to normal State Plan funds and not meant to be utilised for normal State Plan activities. The schemes under HADP are to be properly dovetailed and integrated with the State Plan schemes. The schemes undertaken under this programme also need to be conceived of and designed to achieve the specific objectives of the programme and should not be merely conventional State Plan schemes.
E. Objectives Approaches and Strategies for the Ninth Five Year Plan:
9.10 During the last four Five Year Plans, substantial effort and resources were channelised for the development of infrastructure. However, the corresponding growth in the productive sectors of most of the hill economies has not kept pace with the extent of efforts and resources channelised. Considering the ecological degradation of hill areas and subsequent impact on the economy and ecology of not only the hill areas, but the plain areas as well the main objectives of the programme in the Ninth Plan would be eco-preservation and eco-restoration. All development schemes would be planned in this framework with emphasis on preservation of bio-diversity and rejuvenation of the hill ecology. Traditional practices would be dovetailed with appropriate technology to serve the needs of the people of these areas. Traditional knowledge would be starting point for introduction of modern science and technology. All schemes would be rooted in the existing cultural system so that they are easily acceptable and can help to provide maximum benefit to the people. The basic objective of the Hill Areas Development Programme has been socio-economic development of the hills and the people living there in harmony with ecological development. The schemes implemented under HADP are, therefore, aimed at promoting the basic life support systems with sustainable use of the natural resources of the area covered by the programme. The strategy for the programme will be based on a two-pronged approach :
(i) Sub-Plan Approach: For the Hill areas covered by HADP the sub-plan approach has been adopted since the beginning of the Fifth Five Year Plan, under which a separate Sub-Plan for the hill areas in the concerned State is prepared indicating the flow of funds from the State Plan and Special Central Assistance (SCA). In the case of the WGDP, only the schematic approach is being followed, since the `taluka' (which is the territorial unit of planning in the WGDP) is a unit of demarcation in respect of which the flow of funds from State Plan are difficult to quantify. Efforts are being made to follow the sub-plan approach in WGDP also.
(ii) Integrated Watershed Approach: Since the smallest viable geographical unit is the watershed, it is imperative that the integrated watershed approach be followed in HADP areas. The watershed is a geo-hydrological natural unit which has evolved through interaction of rain water with the topography. The large majority of inhabitants of hill areas depend on agriculture and allied activities for their livelihood and the level of production is dependant on the health and vitality of the concerned watershed. Although this approach is being followed in Niligris district and WGDP areas emphasis needs to be given to this approach in other HADP areas also. The approach followed by the National Watershed Development Project for Rainfed Areas (NWDPRA) is pertinent in this regard. Under this programme micro-watersheds with area between 500 to 1000 hectares are developed by measures such as conserving rain water, through treatment of drainage lines in the micro-watersheds and promoting in-situ moisture conservation by eco-friendly agricultural production systems on arable land. This includes a 3-tier appropriate vegetation consisting of grasses, shrubs and trees for fodder, fuel, timber and fruit in a topo sequence which is in consonance with soil depth and moisture.
9.11 The evaluation study on impact of Watershed Development in Western Ghats Region of Kerala has shown that the programme is beneficial as it has improved the lean flow in streams, resulted in higher recharge of ground water and helped in control of soil erosion. The evaluation also shows that better coordination between various development departments would be beneficial. It is also clear that it is important to create awareness about the programme amongst the beneficiaries.
Sectoral Approaches And Strategies
9.12 The following will be the approach and strategy in respect of hill areas development planning during the Ninth Five Year Plan:
1. Agriculture And Allied Sectors
9.13 The large majority of the population in the hill areas depends on agriculture and allied activities. The important consideration in the approach to agriculture is the fact that in many areas particularly in U.P. hills there has been out-migration of male population as a result of which many of the agricultural operations hitherto carried out by men have to be done by women, hence it is very important to look at the gender element in agricultural practices.
9.14 Appointment of women functionaries should be encouraged and extension work should be conducted through women as far as possible. The other problems which hamper agricultural production in hill areas are small and fragmented land holdings, lack of transport and marketing facilities, and inadequacy in availability of appropriate technology.
9.15 Application of scientific inputs to agriculture and allied sectors, including identification of crops suitable for the agro-climatic zones and multi-purpose species of trees and bushes to meet requirements of the people from a well-developed small land area are of special importance. This approach is expected to spare considerable areas for permanent greening programmes, like social forestry or horticulture and serve the long-term objectives of enhancing production on sustainable basis. Appropriate technologies to bring about localised self-sufficiency and generate alternative means of livelihood, as opposed to heavy dependence on forests, and livestock rearing, can be encouraged. Use of appropriate technologies to upgrade the traditional productive systems such as agricultural operations, livestock rearing, arts and crafts, household and cottage industries, etc., and to reduce drudgery of women in fetching water, fuel-wood, fodder and other demanding daily domestic chores needs to be encouraged on priority. The technologies have to be need-based, more productive, efficient, low-cost, and ecologically sustainable.
9.16 Extension services should enlighten and educate people on how to enhance productivity of both cultivated and community land on a sustainable basis in the context of increasing human and livestock pressures. Consolidation of small and scattered land holdings would help in improving water and land management and ultimately, productivity of the limited land assets of the hills.
9.17 In order to reduce pressure on land, quality of livestock, including goats, sheep, pigs and poultry birds has to be improved and their numbers reduced. There is an urgent need for relating livestock population to the bearing capacity of available land. Scrub animals could be systematically culled out. The livestock and cattle improvement programmes need to be integrated with fodder and cattle-feed development, stall feeding and scientific grazing. The land and livestock management systems have to improve rapidly. This would imply creation of suitable extension services, veterinary care, and other infrastructure for propogating high yielding variety of animals so as to enrich the local stock. The productivity of pastures and grazing areas needs to be restored and enhanced. The effort should be to meet the requirements of food, fuel-wood, timber and fodder through scientific utilisation of scarce hill resources on sustainable basis from the least land area. Food security has to be ensured on top most priority. Development of horticulture, sericulture and plantation, especially cash crops having low volume, light weight, high value and long shelf-life, could play an important role in generating employment opportunities, higher incomes and ecologically sound development in hilly areas.
9.18 Organic residue management would be encouraged to reduce emphasis on inorganic fertilizers. Earthworm technology, particularly in tea cultivation which has been successfully implemented may be introduced on a wider basis. Similarly, it would be appropriate to arrange for supply of fertilizers in smaller convenient bags.
9.19 Horticulture is an important area which needs to be buttressed with adequate infrastructure facilities such as cold storage, food processing units and transport facilities. In addition to fruits, floriculture, mushroom cultivation, vegetable cultivation and production of non-traditional types of foods, such as olives, hazel nuts, strawberry, etc. would be encouraged. Care would also be taken to ensure economic viability of the schemes. Area specific marketing infrastructure, especially for perishable produce and its processing, storage and packaging may be set up where such surpluses are imminent or evident.
9.20 Wherever transport linkages have been established and local cultivation of food-grains is not advantageous, strong Public Distribution System could be extended.
9.21 To reduce the use of wood for packaging of horticultural produce, suitable non-wood based packaging materials could be increasingly used on a viable basis.
9.22 Development of sericulture can provide employment to educated and skilled workers and generate value-adding activities and bring in foreign exchange while maintaining the ecological sustainability of the area.
9.23 The practice of jhum cultivation in Assam hill areas needs to be controlled. For this a holistic approach is needed which would link up agriculture, animal husbandry and domestic sub-systems of the village eco-system in the overall context of forest management using traditional technology and knowledge as its base. The recently initiated NEC project for control of shifting cultivation in upland areas should be dovetailed with HADP schemes and the existing Special Area Programme for Jhum, so as to wean the population of these areas away from this practice.
9.24 The system of irrigation in hill areas requires systematic research so that water harvesting techniques can be used to efficiently provide water to the farmers. Sprinklers and drip irrigation can be encouraged along with small dams and lift irrigation schemes. Wherever possible catchment dams and community tanks may be provided. Development of watersheds that can meet water requirements of the people and conserve water and soil resources of the area can be taken up for integrated development. For this, a multi-disciplinary approach is considered most appropriate for creating conditions conducive to development of natural and human resources.
9.25 Many hill areas seem to be especially suited to industries that require pollution-free atmosphere, cool climate and precision skills such as electronics, watch-making, optical glasses, sericulture, etc. Traditional industries such as handloom products, etc. could be made economically viable by introduction of material patterns and designs which have a large market. This may be done through cooperative societies, NGOs, or research institutions which can help the local weaver communities to make products which have a wide market. This applies also to other traditional crafts such as cane products, etc. In addition, high value industry may also be introduced such as watch making, electronics, etc. It is also important to develop agro-based industries which would enable processing of local raw materials which have a ready local market. Sustainable forest plant and herb-based industries are other activities which can be environment friendly. Although, programmes are being implemented in these areas, it is essential to chalk out a detailed strategy for coordinated development of economically viable industries which would use appropriate technology, improve productivity and enhance income generation without disturbing ecological balance. Due to higher transportation costs in these areas, industries which reduce weight and volume, but add value and increase shelf-life of the locally available raw materials will be advantageous. Large and medium industries may not generally be considered suitable except under exceptionally favourable circumstances.
9.26 Mining can be carried out but with adequate ecological safeguards during and after the mining operations.
9.27 Tourism can be organised as an industry, with due care taken to avoid exploitative use of scarce local resources, especially water and fuel-wood, so that ecology of the hills is preserved and benefits are reaped by the local population of the area. Location specific suitable code of conduct for tourists may be evolved so as to maintain clean and disease-free surroundings, protect local ecology and respect local traditions, culture and heritage.
9.28 Since the hill areas have immense hydroelectric potential micro-hydel projects would be encouraged. However, construction of dams would be considered very carefully clearly taking into account consideration of the geo-seismic condition of the area. Since provision of electricity facility to widely spaced hamlets is a major problem in hill areas, appropriate solar energy technology would be very effective in many hill areas and these should be encouraged in areas covered under HADP / WGDP also. It is imperative that dependence on fire-wood be reduced. Non-conventional sources including bio-gas, wind turbines, etc. should be harnessed to provide for the cooking, lighting and heating needs of the people of the hill areas.
6. Ecology and Forests
9.29 Regeneration and development of the hill environment cannot be achieved without willing and active cooperation of the people which will be forthcoming only if the benefits from improved land, water and forests resources reach directly and equitably to the people.
9.30 The hill areas prone to intense tectonic and seismic activities, need to be identified; activities such as indiscriminate road and building construction and creation of artificial large water bodies need to be minimised and earthquake-proof construction designs should be used. Large projects etc. which might endanger the ecological balance and displace large number of people, should be very carefully considered before investment decisions are taken. Families whose agricultural land is acquired should be settled with productive assets.
9.31 Emphasis should be on (a) sustainable re-development of traditional agro-eco-systems of hill communities building upon traditional knowledge and technology. For this purpose a sharp departure from the conventional approach of the traditionally trained agricultural scientists is required; (b) Further elaboration and refinement of "Joint Forest Management Plan". One of the important elements of these two activities should be conserving bio-diversity and their sustainable use by local communities. Species selection for forestry would be based on sustainable maintenance of soil-fertility, soil, water management and the socio-economic needs of the local communities. The policy of reservation of forest would also need review because population pressure on de-reserved hill slopes has been increasing leading to ecological imbalances.
7. Medical and Health Facilities
9.32 Innovative approaches to family planning and welfare to contain population growth at sustainable levels, have to be adopted. The national programmes for fighting diseases endemic to hill areas such as Goitre, Malaria, Respiratory diseases, etc. would be strengthened. The problems of lack of trained medical personnel and lack of proper facility would be mitigated to a certain extent by educating traditional para-medical practitioners and equipping them with necessary skills and equipments.
9.33 Special care needs to be taken to ensure that hill roads are constructed as per traffic needs, scientific design and specifications suited to hill areas, so that loose soil is contained, proper drainage system is developed and chances of land slides minimised. In such hill areas where the population density is low and the villages are small and scattered over long distances, building connectivity through appropriate types of roads including link roads, bridle paths, foot bridges, etc. is a better strategy than concentration on motorable roads. Road construction should be completed in all respects without delays and roads should also be properly maintained.
9.34 People have to be made aware of the far reaching implications of environmental degradation and their active participation has to be sought in eco-restoration. Environmental aspects can be suitably woven into the curriculum of primary and high school classes. Emphasis should be on effective use of traditional technology, and to develop appropriate technology at the scale required for the hill areas.
10. Involvement of local people and NGOs
9.35 Efforts would be made to involve local population and to understand traditional systems. For this purpose, help would be taken from Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs). NGOs also would be approached for reaching the people. Afforestation programmes may be popularised through village Panchayats or village authorities, schools and other local organisations, groups and clubs.
11. Choice of Sectors / Activities / Schemes
9.36 Although it would not be appropriate to list water-tight compartments of sectors / schemes which could be taken up under HADP / WGDP but the sectors chosen should conform to the major objectives of the programme and lead to development with minimum disturbance to ecology. However, areas such as forest management, soil and water conservation and appropriate technology for agricultural and related sectors would receive priority. Resources should not be thinly spread on a large number of projects and schemes.
12. Implementation Measures
9.37 Intensive efforts would be necessary at the implementation level to halt the process of degradation of the hills and improve productivity of land. Financial and physical monitoring of HADP by the State Governments would help improve implementation of various programmes.
G. Allocation Of Special Central Assistance
9.38 In the Eighth Plan,the allocation of SCA was based on the extant formula under which 86.61% of the outlay is given to HADP areas and 13.39% to WGDP areas.The actual amount given to each area depends on its population and area (1981 census). Under HADP equal weightage is given to these criteria while under WGDP area is given a weightage of 75% and population of 25% (Details of the Allocations are in Table 9.2).
Allocation of Special Central Assistance for the Designated
Hill Areas during the Seventh and Eighth Five Year Plans.
(Rs. in Crore)
Seventh Plan Eighth Allocation
---------------- Plan on Yearly
Outlay Allocation Outlay basis
on yearly ------
A. Designated Hill 753.50 924.03 1235.62 1418.33
Districts of :
Assam 118.20 144.34 194.34 215.61
Tamil Nadu 33.75 41.53 55.49 85.95
Uttar Pradesh 533.50 679.19 910.04 1010.27
West Bengal 44.55 55.04 73.25+ 105.00
Surveys and Studies 3.50 3.93 2.50 1.50
B. Designated Talukas of
Western Ghats Region 116.50 143.77 191.03 215.68
Total (A + B) 870.00 1067.80 1426.65+ 1634.01
9.39 As against Rs. 1450 crore of agreed outlay for the Eighth Plan, the allocation on year-to-year basis aggregated to Rs. 1634.01 crore.
H. Western Ghats Development Programme (WGDP)
9.40 The Western Ghats hill ranges run to a length of about 1600 kms. more or less parallel to the west coast starting from the mouth of river Tapti in Dhule district of Maharashtra and ending at Kanyakumari, the southern-most tip of India in Tamil Nadu. The region covers an area of 1.60 lakh sq.kms. supporting a population of 442 lakh (1991 Census). For delineation of the area for coverage by the WGDP, the criteria of elevation (600 metres above MSL) and contiguity with taluka (a territorial administrative unit) have been adopted.
9.41 The region generally receives 2000 mm to 7000 mm of rainfall. Most of the rivers in peninsular India have their origin in Western Ghats of which Godavari, Krishna, Kaveri, Kali Nadi and Periyar are of inter-State importance. These water resources have been harnessed for irrigation and power. About thirty per cent of the area of the Western Ghats region is under forest. The region is also a treasure house of plant and animal life. The traditional horticulture crops in the region are arecanut in the hills, and coconut in the coast along with mango and jack fruit. Tea, coffee, rubber, cashew and tapioca are the other important plantations / crops of the region.
9.42 The ecological and environmental problems of the area include increasing pressure of population on land and vegetation; submergence of forest areas under river valley projects, encroachment on forest lands; clear felling of forests for raising tea, coffee, rubber and other plantations; mining operations, soil erosion, land slides; shifting cultivation; and declining wildlife population.
9.43 A separate Western Ghats Development Programme (WGDP) was launched in 1974-75 as a part of the programme for the development of hill areas.
9.44 The approach and strategy of the programme has evolved through the Plans. During the Fifth Five Year Plan WGDP laid emphasis on economic well-being of the population in hill areas and exploitation of the resources of the hilly region. The main programmes during the Fifth Five Year Plan consisted of activities in the areas of horticulture, plantation, afforestation, minor irrigation, animal husbandry and tourism.
9.45 The Sixth Plan stressed the need for a balance in emphasis between beneficiary oriented and infrastructural development schemes, keeping in view the vital importance of ecological restoration and conservation. During the Sixth Plan the Watershed Development Programme was taken up on a pilot basis.
9.46 Apart from the shift in the emphasis from beneficiary oriented schemes to eco-conservation and eco-development, a notable step initiated by the Planning Commission during the Sixth Plan was the involvement of universities and research institutions located in the Western Ghats region in the programme.
9.47 The thrust of the WGDP has been on sustainable development of the areas covered under the programme since the last two Five Year Plans i.e. the Seventh and the Eighth Five Year Plans. In its present form, WGDP operates on the following principles:
9.48 The general approach under WGDP during the Eighth Five Year Plan was continuance of the strategy adopted in the Seventh Five Year Plan which was to take up integrated development on compact watershed basis keeping in view the over-riding priorities of eco-development and eco-restoration as well as the basic needs of the people like food, fodder, fuel and safe drinking water. In operational terms, integrated development of watershed approach envisages the following sequence of actions:
9.49 The basic idea is that all development activity in the Western Ghats Region should be undertaken in an integrated manner in all selected watersheds on the lines indicated above. The concept of integrated watershed development thus implies not just a development programme, but a general approach to all development programmes.
9.50 The approach to the WGDP during the Ninth Five Year Plan would continue to be the same as for the last two five year plans.
Evaluation Studies and Perspective Plans:
9.51 At the instance of the Planning Commission, joint evaluation studies were carried out by the P.E.O. and the concerned State Governments. The evaluation reports are available for Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. The reports indicate that the impact of the Western Ghats Development Programme has been encouraging.
9.52 Perspective Plans for WGDP areas are available for Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Necessary steps would be taken to operationalise these perspective plans during the Ninth Five Year Plan.
High Level Commission for the North-Eastern Region
9.53 A High Level Commission was appointed by the Prime Minister as part of his announcement of New Initiatives for the North-Eastern Region in October, 1996. The Commission was required to examine the backlog in respect of Basic Minimum Services in the seven North-Eastern States. It was also required to look into the gaps in important sectors of infrastructure development in the North Eastern Region. In their report titled "Transforming the Northeast", which was submitted to the Prime Minister in March, 1997, the Commission furnished a detailed assessment of the funds required to tackle the backlogs in Basic Minimum Services and infrastructural needs and made several specific recommendations in different important sectors concerning the development of the Region. The total requirement of funds for providing Basic Minimum Services was assessed at Rs.9395.54 crore. The indicative requirement of funds for development of infrastructure was put at Rs.93,619 crore of which Rs.17,995 crore was assessed to be the requirement for the Ninth Five Year Plan period. To operationalise the recommendations of the Commission, the Planning Commission launched a State-wise exercise. The phasing of the requirements, as well as the monitoring arrangements, were worked out in consultation with the States. To the extent possible, the implementation of the recommendations was internalised in the formulation of the Ninth Five Year Plan proposals of the seven States as well as those of the Central Ministries/ Departments. The Government also required the Central Ministries/ Departments to set apart 10% of their budget allocations for the purpose of the development programmes of the North-East. Since the requirements of the States in the North-Eastern Region could not be accommodated in the Plan proposals, it was decided to provide additional funds for the purpose through the mechanism of a Central Pool created out of the likely savings from the funds earmarked for the North-East in the budgets of the Central Ministries/ Departments. The administrative steps required to operationalise the Central Pool are being finalised. Action is also in hand to include Sikkim in the North Eastern Council.
II. North Eastern Council (NEC):
9.54 The NEC was set up in August, 1972 under the NEC Act, 1971 (with its secretariat at Shillong) as an experiment of regional planning and development. As per provisions of the statute under which it was constituted, the Council is envisaged as an advisory body empowered to discuss matters of common interest to the Union and the NE States, and recommend to the Central/State Governments any matter of common interest, inter-alia, in the fields of economic and social planning, Inter-state transport and communications, power and flood control, etc. For securing balanced development, the NEC may formulate, for the Member States, a regional plan in regard to matters of common importance to more than one State of the Region, priorities of the projects / schemes included in the plan and their location. However, over the years, the Council's role has been transformed largely into an organisation providing funds for financing important Inter-State development projects.
9.55 The projects financed by the NEC are implemented either by the State agencies or by the Central public sector undertakings / organisations. The NEC plan funds consist of Central assistance, loan from LIC and SLR borrowings.
9.56 The functions of the NEC can be grouped into three categories:-
9.57 By the end of the Seventh Five Year Plan, the NEC had incurred an expenditure of Rs. 1284.68 crore since its inception. Another Rs. 411.45 crore were spent during 1990-91 and 1991-92. The approved outlay for the Eighth Plan was Rs. 1160 crore at 1991-92 prices. The total of year-wise approved outlays worked out to Rs. 1648 crore. Against this, the NEC has incurred an expenditure of Rs. 1581.28 crore.
9.58 The main emphasis of the Council has been on the development of infrastructure in the NE Region, especially on projects with Inter-State ramifications. The Council has been concentrating on enlarging transport and communications and development of power and technical institutions. The year-wise position of outlay and expenditure under different sectors during the various years of the Eighth Plan have been given in Table 9.3.
9.59 The NEC will continue its efforts for the development of infrastructure during the Ninth Plan. Priority would be given to projects for the development of transport and communication including roads and bridges, airports, waterways, etc. The effort of the Council in the development of the transport and communications system would be so directed that all the States have at least two points of access to the neighbouring States. The existing roads and other infrastructure would be improved in a cost effective manner. The spill-over works of the earlier Plan periods would also be completed. The Council will take up improvement of selected airports in the Region to facilitate air travel in financial collaboration with Airports Authority of India.
9.60 Keeping in view the vast potential for the development of hydro-electric power in the Region, the Council would make efforts to harness the same. Hydro-electric and gas-based power projects would be taken up during the Ninth Plan to meet the power requirements of the NE Region and, if feasible, to generate surplus for supply to other parts of the country. The two hydro-electric projects, viz. Ranganadi and Doyang which are presently being implemented, would be completed and the Rokhia gas-based power project in Tripura would also be commissioned.
9.61 The Council would strengthen various technical and professional institutions to enhance the capacity and improve the quality of education and training imparted by them. Support to RIMS, Imphal, BB Cancer Institute, Guwahati, Forensic Science Laboratory, Assam, etc. would be provided to improve their facilities. The Council may also take up development of new institutions for improved health care in this region.
9.62 With regard to agriculture and allied services, the Council would focus on introduction of improved technology, empowerment of farmers through training and demonstration and improving technical infrastructure for imparting technical advice and inputs; development of market linkages and innovative projects in areas like horticulture, spices, aromatic and medicinal plants would be taken up. The possibility of setting up joint ventures with private sector for processing of various produce would be explored. The Council will also facilitate establishment of infrastructure for production of high quality seeds, in respect of local crops, improved breeds of poultry, piggery, other livestock and development of fishery, etc.
9.63 In the area of industrial development, the Council would play a catalytic role by organising seminars/workshops, etc. in collaboration with various Chambers of Trade and Industry to create awareness about the industrial potential of the Region and to attract foreign and domestic investment in this area as also establishment of institutes/facilities to provide raw materials of desired specification, advice on technology input design, quality control, market information, etc. It would also strive to develop common approaches to expansion of institutional credit and recovery mechanisms.
9.64 The Council will continue its efforts in sponsoring surveys and studies to explore the prospects in the North Eastern Region. It will take various steps to build up adequate data base to facilitate preparation of suitable regional plans and projects. The Council would also develop suitable systems for the monitoring and evaluation of various projects so that these projects are implemented in a timely and cost-effective manner.
9.65 The NEC is part-funding certain projects covered under the PM's New Initiatives announced for the NE Region. Efforts will be made to complete these projects as early as possible.
9.66 In order to make the Council a more effective organ for the development of the Region, the restructuring of the NEC has been receiving attention. Suitable legislative action to amend the NEC Act is under consideration. The sectoral distribution of NEC approved outlay for the Ninth Plan (1997-2002) is given in Table 9.4.
III. Border Area Development Programme (BADP)
9.67 Border Area Development Programme was started during the Seventh Plan and was entirely funded by the Central Government. Its objective was balanced development of the sensitive border areas in the Western Region through provision of infrastructure facilities and promotion of a sense of security among the local population. To start with the programme covered the States bordering Pakistan, i.e. Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir (Details of Allocations in Table 9.5). After a review in 1993-94, the programme was also extended to States which have international border with Bangladesh. During the Ninth Plan it is being extended to States which have a border with Myanmar. With this the programme would now cover twelve States, i.e. Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Gujarat, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, and Manipur.
9.68 Initially, the main objective of the programme was development of human resources, particularly education - school, technical and vocational in the Community Development Blocks adjoining the border. After being revamped in 1993-94, while its objective continues to be balanced development in remote inaccessible areas situated near the border for ensuring effective administration, its scope has been reoriented to give a sharper focus for tackling special problems which arise in areas continguous to international border.
9.69 The Border Area Development Programme is a 100 % Centrally Funded Programme. The outlay for the programme in the 8th Plan was Rs. 640 crore at 1991-92 prices (Details of Allocation in Table 9.6). However, total releases from 1992-93 to 1996-97 have been Rs. 736 crore. Funds are provided as Special Central Assistance on a 100% grant basis for execution of approved schemes. The block is the basic unit of the programme. Funds are divided among the States by giving equal weightage the following parameters:
9.70 Area specific schemes which address difficult problems of the border areas only are eligible for implementation under the Programme. These are to be drawn up keeping in view factors such as remoteness, accessibility, perception of threat from across the border, problems like smuggling, infiltration, subversion etc. and inadequacies relating to provision of essential needs. Activities such as supply of drinking water, communication facilities, strengthening/creation of administrative machinery, improving Public Distribution System etc. can be taken up under the Programme. Since promotion of sense of security among the people in the Border Areas is an important aspect of the Programme, schemes designed for public participation in crisis management, information and motivation of the people including their involvement in prevention of subversive activities, smuggling, infiltration etc. can be funded. Development of community centres to cater to social and cultural needs of the people of these areas can also be taken up. Creation of durable assets is to be preferred over revenue expenditure under the Programme.
9.71 As per the guidelines for the programmme, the funds under the programme will not be used to finance schemes, which are to be accommodated in the State Plan. An exception can only be made when it is necessary to do so to augment facilities and services or to make up for deficiencies, consistent with the objectives of the Programme.
9.72 With the setting up of two Committees, i.e. Empowered Committee at the Central level and Screening Committee at the State level, considerable flexibility has been given to States to formulate and implement schemes to meet the programme objectives. The Empowered Committee deals with the policy matters relating to the scope of the programme, prescription of the geographical limits of the area in the State and allocation of funds to the States. The Screening Committee at State level has to function within the directions of the Empowered Committee. Individual schemes for each State are approved by the Screening Committee, chaired by the Chief Secretary of the State. The Committee has complete freedom to execute the schemes through any of the four agencies mentioned below :
9.73 Although the voluntary organisations and agencies are to be selected with care, having regard to security of sensitive areas due emphasis is also given to effective involvement of local people / democratic institutions / voluntary agencies in order to inspire mutual trust and confidence between the Government and the people.
9.74 Indira Gandhi Nahar Project (IGNP) in Rajasthan has also been partially funded through BADP funds. The outlay in 8th Five Year Plan was Rs. 250 crore. However, total release of Rs. 284 crore has been made during the 8th Five Year Plan. However, from 1997-98 the project is also being funded under another Centrally Sponsored Scheme viz. Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP). Hence, funding of IGNP from BADP may be phased out as there have been pressing demands from various states to extend BADP to other international borders.
IV. Drought Prone Areas Programme (DPAP) / Desert Development Programme (DDP)
9.75 Depletion of environment particularly in the tribal areas is largely attributable to the increasing biotic pressure on the fragile eco-system in the absence of adequate investments and appropriate practices to augment and conserve the land and water resources. Over time tree coverage has been depleted, soil erosion has increased, water level has gone down and consequently the severity of drought has increased leading to ecological degeneration. The DPAP and DDP programmes were launched specifically to assess these problems with the objective of arresting the process of ecological degeneration and desertification. Since inception and upto 1994-95 Rs. 1742 crore have been spent under the DPAP programme and several thousand hectares of land have been treated. However, in terms of coverage, 10% of the total geographical area identified as drought prone has been treated; under the DDP only 1% of the total area has been covered.
9.76 In 1994-95, a High Level Committee was set up to review the DPAP and DDP programmes and to suggest measures for improving the content and implementation of these programme. The Committee observed that despite the fact that the programmes had been in operation for almost two decades they had made very little impact on the ground. Of the factors responsible for this, it was identified, that a wide range of activities were taken up despite the fact that they were not related to the core objectives of land development and soil conservation, water conservation and afforestation and pasture development. Further, DPAP funds were not dovetailed with those under other programmes related to land and water conservation. Consequently, planning was continued on an ad-hoc basis along sectoral lines though planning along watershed lines had been recommended as a strategy. In most States very little effort had been made in this regard; though in some States the process of implementating the programmes on a watershed basis had been initiated. People's participation was conspicuous by its absence. In many cases the funds from these programmes did not constitute an additionality to the existing sectoral schemes but were used to substitute for them. For instance, the PEO evaluation of the DDP in 1994 found that in Gujarat and Rajasthan over 70% of the expenditure in animal husbandry, 90% of the expenditure under soil and water conservation and 96% of the expenditure under forestry and pastures was from DDP. However, the success of experiments at Ralegaon Sidhi and Adgaon, in Maharashtra, Kabbalnala and Mittemari in Karnataka and Jhabua in Madhya Pradesh, show that the adverse impact of droughts can be contained, by concerted efforts based on the concept of micro-watershed with a dedicated leadership whether from the government or an NGO and with people's participation.
9.77 The High Level Committee evolved a new set of criteria for identification of drought prone and desert areas of the country and recommended a strategy which involved a holistic approach to the development of drought prone / desert blocks via the development of micro watersheds of about 500 hectares as a unit. Watershed development plans were to be drawn up involving the people in the planning and prioritisation. Technical assistance was to be provided by a multi-disciplinary technical team comprising officers from various line departments associated with different activities related to watershed development.
9.78 As per the recommendations of the High Level Committee, common guidelines have been issued for DPAP / DDP and watershed programmes of the Integrated Watershed Development Programme. In addition upto 50% of the resources under the Employment Assurance Scheme have been earmarked for watershed related activities. Hence, the programmes do not suffer from lack of financial resources. Yet, the progress has been slow and very uneven across States. During 1995-96 and 1996-97, the expenditure under DPAP and DDP was 42.5% and 56.8% respectively. Part of the problem has been in operationalisation of the new guidelines, particularly the creation of the prescribed institutional arrangements from the village level to the State level. Also, as the DPAP is funded on an equal sharing basis between Centre and States, several States have used the EAS funds for watershed projects as in this case the State governments are required to provide only 20%, with the Centre contributing 80%. Hence, the funding patterns would be rationalised in the Ninth Plan with all schemes of poverty alleviation and area development being funded on a uniform pattern of 75:25 sharing between the Centre and the States.
9.79 One of the major constraints identified in the implementation of the watershed programmes is the lack of trained technical expertise for the preparation of plans. Data on topography including soil and water endowments, location of slopes for building of water harvesting structures, details of land use pattern etc. are required before a micro watershed plan can be prepared. Towards this end, training has to be given top priority, which has to include both panchayati raj functionaries as well as the administrative officers. To facilitate this process training of trainers has to be taken up by various national and State level training institutes, agricultural universities and NGOs.
9.80 In the Ninth Plan this programme will be implemented through the PRIs. All adult members residing in a watershed area will be members of the Watershed Association and they will nominate 10 - 12 members on the Watershed Committee. The funds will be received by Zilla Parishads and the DPCs will appoint the project implementing agency. At the block level there will be a review Committee under the Block Pramukh and all village pradhans will be members. However, at the village level the panchayats and the Watershed Association / Committee would have to evolve a system of working in close cooperation with each other. The assets created would have to be maintained by the panchayats.
9.81 In the development of rainfed agriculture, the issue of research and adoption of appropriate technologies is crucial. These need to be location specific, low cost indigenous technologies, agricultural diversification, changes in cropping patterns and an effective extension system to reach the technologies / information to the people is critical in determining the effectiveness of the programme. In addition, as these programmes of area development are biased in favour of those who own land, the question of equity is a moot one. Land reforms with rights of cultivation vested in tenants and share croppers, pattas to groups of landless on common property resources and wastelands can go a long way in redressing the existing inequities in the system. Still the interests of landless have to be protected.
9.82 In so far as the DDP is concerned, a somewhat different strategy would be required, with a concentration on livestock and fodder / pastures and other non-farm activities. Felling of trees for fuelwood has to be restricted and non-conventional sources of energy developed. Use of scarce water has to be optimised, particularly when there is a failure of even the minimal normal rains. In so far as the cold desert eco-system is concerned, it is limited to Ladakh and Kargil in J and K and Lahaul and Spiti and Kinnaur districts of Himachal Pradesh. With regard to these areas the research support is inadequate. But it is urgently required for development of vegetables, horticultural plants and production of vegetables seeds. Plants with medicinal value can be developed, mountain animals need to be given attention, and better ways of water management developed.
9.83 It cannot be gainsaid that despite the limited success of the DPAP / DDP programmes, development of rainfed areas encompassing soil and water conservation along watershed lines has to be the strategy for sustainable development in the future. The problems of low agricultural productivity, poverty and backwardness, in areas suffering from degradation of natural resources, need to be addressed in a holistic manner. A number of government departments both at the Centre and in the States as well as NGOs and external agencies are funding watershed development projects. But there is a great deal of variation in the norms, procedures, and institutional arrangements as between the programmes. Hence, there is a need to evolve a common set of guidelines, so that the implementation at the ground level is on a uniform pattern. A single coordinating agency at the district level under the supervision of the Zilla Parishads should be identified and at the State level, the State Planning Boards / Departments should be responsible for coordination. At the Central Level, a common set of guidelines need to be evolved by the Planning Commission with concerned departments of the Central Government.
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