Central Scheme Funds: ‘Bureaucrats’ casual approach affecting Punjab prospects’

A Niti Aayog member Friday put the onus on the “casual” approach of bureaucrats in taking up issues pertaining to agriculture in Punjab for state not getting “deserving benefit” of the Central schemes.

Prof Ramesh Chand, Member (Agriculture), Niti Aayog, raised the issue during a meeting with Punjab Agriculture Minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal in Chandigarh, a government functionary privy to the meeting said.

“He (Prof Chand) was very categorical. He said that there was no dearth of funds under central schemes, but Punjab was not getting the required benefit as there was no one who could take up state’s case strongly. He said he did not need to be evasive on any issue. That is why he was saying all this on the minister’s face,” the functionary told The Indian Express.

Prof Chand’s remarks came after Dhaliwal urged him to help Punjab as the agriculture in the state was on the cross-roads and could not be sustained without the help of Centre. Dhaliwal is learnt to have reminded Prof Chand of how the state had ushered in the Green Revolution. He said that the state now needs handholding to pull the farmers out of debt crisis so that they are not pushed to commit suicide.

Prof Chand then suggested that Dhaliwal should appoint nodal officers to coordinate with the Niti Aayog. Following this, the minister appointed one IAS officer each from the departments of agriculture and rural development as nodal officers to coordinate with NITI Aayog to avail the benefits of central schemes. While Arshdeep Singh Thind would coordinate for the agriculture department, Amit Kumar will coordinate with Niti Aayog on behalf of rural development department.

Dhaliwal said that NITI Aayog members will visit Punjab to discuss the schemes of the rural development department and also give inputs on how to get maximum benefit from the central schemes.

During the meeting, Dhaliwal sought the cooperation and support of the NITI Aayog and said that only with the joint efforts of the Centre and the state, the benefit of the central schemes could be provided to the beneficiaries at the grass root.

A government statement later quoted Chand as saying that NITI Aayog is created to help the states for better implementation of schemes.

Prof Chand said that the bureaucracy of the states should be made accountable. He said that there is no need for the states to make requests to anyone for taking benefits of central schemes. It is their right and the only requirement is to send the proposals properly so that they can be passed without any hindrance, he added.