Sunday, Nov 21, 2004
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By Our Special Correspondent
GULBARGA, NOV. 20. The Chief Minister, N. Dharam Singh, today said that the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, had responded positively to most of the suggestions made by the State Government for changes in the norms for devolution of finances and a reduction in the interest rate on Central loans extended to State Governments.
Addressing a press conference here, Mr. Singh said that during the Southern Regional Chief Ministers' Conference on the Mid-Term Appraisal of the Tenth Five-Year Plan, Dr. Ahluwalia took note of the plea for increasing the share of the States in the allocation made from Central taxes and increased allocation for irrigation projects.
Dr. Ahluwalia had assured the State Government that the Planning Commission was aware of the problems faced by the States on the fiscal front. The Planning Commission would take a decision on the demand for increased allocation from Central taxes and service tax before the next meeting of the National Development Council.
Mr. Singh said the State Government sought a reduction in the interest rates on loans extended by the Centre to the States from the present 9 to 11 per cent to 6.5 per cent. It also sought a reduction in interest rates on assistance provided by financial agencies such as the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) to the States.
The State Government also made a strong plea for providing assistance to the States to take up developmental activities in the backward areas.
To a question, Mr. Singh reiterated that the Government was committed to the constitution of a State Human Rights Commission and a notification in this regard with the names of the chairman and members would be issued within a couple of days.
Mr. Singh the Centre was likely to introduce an amendment to Article 371 of the Constitution in the winter session of Parliament to enable special reservation in jobs and education for people from the backward regions of the State.
To a question, the Chief Minister said he would soon be leading a delegation to meet the Railway Minister, Lalu Prasad, on pending railway projects in the State. Efforts would be made to speed up work on a new railway line between Gulbarga and Bidar, he added.
Mr. Singh and the Minister for Water Resources, M. Mallikarjun Kharge, said that the Government was fully prepared to present its case before the new tribunal constituted by the Centre to allocate the surplus waters available in the Krishna river.
A high power committee consisting of senior officials and irrigation experts had been constituted to prepare a comprehensive plan for the utilisation of the additional Krishna waters available as the State's share and also to present its case before the tribunal.
Mr. Kharge said the new tribunal, which is yet to begin its hearings, had not set any date for hearings.
He reiterated the need for increasing the borrowing limit of Krishna Bhagya Jala Nigam, Krishna Neeravari Nigam and Cauvery Neeravari Nigam to mobilise additional resources to complete ongoing irrigation projects in the Krishna and Cauvery basins.
Mr. Kharge said a comprehensive plan was being drawn up for the full utilisation of the water allocated to the State under Scheme A of the Bachawat Award in the Krishna river and the expected allocation of water in Scheme B by the new tribunal.
He said an appraisal paper detailing the requirement of funds for taking up new irrigation projects in the Krishna Basin to utilise the water allocated by the new tribunal and also the funds required for completing the ongoing projects would be submitted to the Cabinet at its next meeting for approval.
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