Planning Commission is dead. Its successor must focus on ideas over implementation.
Rajasthan’s decision to ‘target’ free medicines and diagnostics is contrary to the recommended role.
But will a nodal ministry at the Centre solve all issues in a federal structure such as ours?
and collection as well as transmission and distribution losses — has made progress, but not as desired. The Central government should impose a cut-off date for this programme to incentivise states to speed up their efforts. It is important to reduce AT&C losses if the price of electricity is to be contained. A number of states, including Gujarat, have reduced such losses, even for state-held discoms. Surely this can be repeated?
Fifth, the environmental clearance process should be streamlined. While environmental clearances cannot be completely dispensed with, the processes need to be made quick and transparent. During the permit raj, manufacturers needed a licence from the Directorate General of Technical Development, which prescribed what to produce, how much to produce, how to produce and where to produce. This was dismantled in 1991 and the economy boomed. Unfortunately, over the years it seems that the DGTD has been replaced by the Directorate General of Environmental Clearance.
Sixth, the land acquisition act of 2013 should be modified. This act is a recipe for interminable delay in starting any project. It provides for a social impact assessment (SIA) for every piece of land acquired, however small. Land acquisition can only begin after the SIA is reviewed by an expert committee. This may be held up further if it is challenged in court. The act should be amended to restrict the SIA to acquisitions above a certain limit and the process should be streamlined. Also, certain provisions for compulsory resettlement and rehabilitation need to be modified.
Finally, the government must assure policy stability. An early declaration that it will have stable policies and not modify any act retroactively is necessary to restore the confidence of investors. These actions could stimulate economic and industrial growth.
The writer is former member, Planning Commission, and chairman, Integrated Research and Action for Development