Greater elbow room for states as UPA turns more federal

Published: 13th May 2013 09:02 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th May 2013 09:02 AM   |  A+A-

Sometimes, wisdom dawns among the rulers only at the fag end of their tenures. The UPA Government seems to have decided to become more federal in its nature as it wants to give the state governments more freedom in the implementation of the centrally sponsored schemes. The Planning commission has fine-tuned the Cabinet note pertaining to this plan,  and it is all likely to be cleared in the Cabinet soon. The States will then have more freedom in implementing the Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) according to their requirements. ‘’The new proposal would be path-breaking in centre-state relationships. Apart from making the federal structure more strong, it will remove the feudal nature of the CSS,’’ says a source. Interestingly, Planning Commission vice-chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, who is not known for having any liking for decentralisation of power, is the active force behind this move. ‘’The vice-chairman’s active interest in this proposal is quite surprising. Even when the report was submitted way back in 2011, he has not shown any interest. Now he is the main driving force behind this move,’’ added the source. Several congress CMs, including Ashok Gehlot of Rajasthan,  Oommen Chandy of Kerala, and N Kiran Kumar Reddy of Andhra Pradesh, have written to the PM demanding more legroom for the States in implementing the schemes.  Based on the Chaturvedi Commission report submitted in 2011, the Planning Commission proposal aims at overhauling the hierarchical structure involved in the implementation of the CSS. Once accepted, the States will have the freedom to implement the schemes according to their specific requirements. ‘’It will make the Central schemes like MGNREGS more effective as every state will be able to make changes in the ambit of the CSS. At present, the State government have to plead before the central ministers,’’ said an official, alluding at recent spat between Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh and States over the MGNREGS. Several States like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and West Bengal had demanded they be included in the specific areas in the MGNREGS ambit. Kerala had written a huge list of activities like geriatric care, dairying, and fisheries to be included in the ambit. Kerala had requested the Ramesh to bring elderly care within the ambit of the job guarantee scheme. But it was refused.


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