Chennai: Tamilnadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam today said the decision to include the Chief Ministers in the Governing Council of the NITI Aayog is a welcome development and hoped that their views will be given weightage.
‘States will now find themselves full partners in the development process and together we are able to work to regain for the nation a high growth trajectory,’ he said while speaking at the first meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog in the capital.
He recalled that two months ago the Aayog met to discuss the contours of the new institution to replace the erstwhile Planning Commission and said he was happy to note that the spirit of some of the suggestions made by Tamilnadu on key issues that need to be kept in mind while establishing the new Institution have been captured in the resolution that establishes the NITI Aayog.
‘The NITI Aayog has been conceived as a think-tank to advise on strategic issues in the area of economic development. The institution is expected to be not a one way top-down flow of ideas from the Centre to the States, but a genuine and continuing partnership with the States,’ he said.
Panneerselvam said that Tamilnadu, under the leadership of AIADMK supremo had always stood for an increased role for the States in the development and nation building process. ‘It is our belief that a strong union can emerge only out of strong States and India’s governance structure has to reflect more and more federal features,’ he added.
He said that the inclusion of State Chief Ministers in the Governing Council of the NITI Aayog is a welcome development. ‘However, we need to be careful to ensure that the Council does not become a ritualistic exercise similar to the National Development Council and the Inter-State Council in the past. The processes and procedures for the Chief Ministers’ Council should be laid down clearly.
To make the NITI Aayog a federally empowered institution with active participation of the States, the views of the States need to be heard at different levels in the hierarchy, the Tamilnadu Chief Minister said.
He also urged that the NITI Aayog should create sectorwise Strategic Vision documents which would provide a longer term perspective of where the nation aspires to be in that particular sector.
‘The Tamilnadu Vision 2023 document’ launched by Jayalalithaa was an excellent example of such a perspective plan, he pointed out. ‘We believe that the non-transparent, discretionary and uncertain fashion in which funds were allocated and disbursed to States by the erstwhile Planning Commission and by different Central Ministries under various Centrally-sponsored schemes must be comprehensively overhauled,’ he said.
Panneerselvam said that only a far-reaching change in the sharing of financial resources will reflect the true intent of the Modi-led government’s announcement of making States equal partners in the process of development. .
The Tamilnadu Chief Minister said that fund allocation formulae need to provide clarity, predictability and certainty on the level of allocation for the year to enable better planning and implementation and the annual allocations communicated sufficiently early.
Panneerselvam also pointed out that Jayalalithaa during her Chief Ministership had launched the ‘Muzhu Sugathara Tamizhagam’ movement in the State in 2011. He also said that the Centre must focus on arranging substantial funding for the Underground Sewerage Schemes, including through concessional aid.
Panneerselvam also pointed out that the State government had initiated various steps to tackle the drug menace and sought Centre’s support for Tamilnadu’s initiatives to augment drinking water sources in the State through establishment of desalination plants at different locations. He also underlined a slew of measures and schemes initiated by the AIADMK government in Tamilnadu for the State’s development including efforts to promote use of solar energy.