At the first governing council meeting of the newly created Niti Aayog, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday urged states to bury their differences to boost growth, create jobs and revive the investment cycle. He also called upon chief ministers to personally check factors slowing project implementation for quick remedial action.
Modi also hinted at transferring some of the 66 centrally sponsored schemes (CSS) to states. A sum of Rs 3,38,562 crore was provided in 2014-15 to states for implementation of CSS.
“We will move away from ‘one size fits all’ schemes and forge a better match between the schemes and the needs of states,” Modi said while chairing the first meet of the recently constituted National Institution for Transforming India, or Niti Aayog, attended by 31 chief ministers and representatives.
Modi identified alleviation of poverty as the biggest challenge before the country and said the newly formed body will forge a model of co-operative and competitive federalism.
The government also decided to create three subgroups with a specific focus on rationalising the CSSs, creation of skilled manpower and providing institutional support to the Swachh Bharat Mission.
These groups will be headed by chief ministers and constituted within the next few weeks after the CMs indicate their preferences, finance minister Arun Jaitley said after the meeting.
While the first sub-group would study the existing CSSs and recommend measures on possibilities of continuing, cutting down or transferring these schemes, the second would work on the aspects of skill development and identify activities for creation of skilled manpower within states
The third group would decide on institutional mechanisms to be evolved, and technological inputs, for ensuring commitment to Swachh Bharat or the Clean India campaign.Besides, the Prime Minister also asked all states to create two task forces under the aegis of the Niti Aayog.
One task force would focus on issues concerning poverty alleviation, and the other would look into the development of the state’s farm sector and suggest methods of central assistance in this regard.
“The thrust of Niti Aayog would be to coordinate with states for identifying specific problems and devising mechanisms to resolve it through the spirit of cooperative federalism,” Jaitley said.
Jaitley also said that Modi told CMs that “the priorities are growth, investment, jobs, poverty alleviation, decentralisation, efficiency and no delay in execution of projects”. The PM, Jaitley said, also highlighted the fact that economic activity is to ultimately take place in states and, therefore, the states had an important role to play.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee skipped the meet. However, Bihar CM Jitan Manjhi, likely to be replaced soon, was present.
Others who attended the meeting included Akhilesh Yadav (Uttar Pradesh), Tarun Gogoi (Assam), Prakash Singh Badal, O Panneerselvam (Tamil Nadu), Oommen Chandy (Kerala) and Virbhadra Singh (Himachal Pradesh), as well as chief ministers from BJP ruled states.
Meanwhile, Modi urged states to use the upcoming school vacations as an opportunity to build and upgrade toilets. He also suggested that a portion of the funds under the Member of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) and Member of Legislative Assembly Local Area Development )MLALAD) schemes can be earmarked for cleanliness-related activities until 2019.