Thiruvananthapuram: Finance minister Dr T. M. Thomas Isaac said that district planning committees should come up with three or four integrated projects in each district that would be talked about across the country. “Now it is clear it will be difficult to whip up the kind of revolutionary interest of the first People’s Plan but we should at least be able to come up with integrated projects at the grassroots level that we could be immensely proud of,” Dr Isaac said while speaking at the District Planning Review Workshop held here on Wednesday.
This is the first time that DPCs have come up with a detailed perspective plan for each district, which has not only a comprehensive SWOT analysis of a district but has also pooled together all the grassroots-level schemes in a district within a common framework.
Dr Isaac cited watershed programmes and health-related projects as examples of the integrated programmes. By integrated he meant a chain of minor projects that together make up a comprehensive big project. Say for instance an integrated health project at a block or panchayat level will mean a combination of nutrition, palliative, drinking water, sanitation, and public health schemes. Isaac, in his latest Budget, had announced incentives for the best integrated schemes.
The DPC teams, headed by the panchayat president and the district collector, made ‘20-30’-minute presentations during the Review Workshop. “The perspective plans were the result of four months of hard work put in by an army of local officials and talent available at the local level,” said Dr K N Harilal, Planning Board member. “These plans essentially tried to rationalise, prioritise and restructure the hundreds of schemes prepared at the district, block and panchayat levels. In previous years, many of these schemes had worked at cross purposes. So the DPCs ensured that competing projects were made complementary,” Dr Harilal said.
This was also the first time that spatial analysis was conducted at the district level. “The spatial plans threw up some surprising results. For instance, we found that depopulation was taking place in, or people were simply moving out from, certain parts of the district. It was also found that many densely populated areas did not have adequate infrastructure,” Dr Harilal said.
Now that the perspective plans are in place, the next step will be for the DPCs to issue circulars to all local governments under it regarding the plan proposals that could be taken up in the coming 2018-19 fiscal. The finance minister said that the DPCs should make sure that local-level plans work within the framework set by them.