MAHARASHTRA Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar on Thursday denied reports that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had rejected the Vijay Kelkar Committee report on regional imbalance on the grounds that “many parameters…do not match with those in the Constitution”.
“Where and when did the CM reject the report? I don’t think he has said it anywhere,” Mungantiwar told The Indian Express.
Reports had quoted Fadnavis as saying in the Legislative Council on June 20 that the state government can’t implement the report “as it is”. He reportedly also said that if the committee’s recommendations are implemented “as it is”, it could mean injustice to Vidarbha and Marathwada.
“There is no question of rejecting the report. As a matter of fact, over the past few years, we have already implemented many of its recommendations in Vidarbha,” Mungantiwar said.
Asked if there was anything in the report that does not adhere to the Constitution, Mungantiwar said, “Nothing except that it (committee) had treated tehsil as a unit in its analysis. It could mean more funds to some drought-prone tehsils in western Maharashtra.”
To a question about which of the panel’s recommendations were implemented, the minister said, “You just go through the report. You will find a host of them.”
In 2011, the Maharashtra government led by Prithviraj Chavan had set up a high-powered committee under the chairmanship of eminent economist and chairman of the 13th Finance Commission, Vijay Kelkar, to study the regional imbalance of development in the state and suggest ways to mitigate it. The committee, comprising experts from all regions, had submitted its report in 2013. It was not accepted or rejected by the state government.
The Fadnavis government had later set up a committee under Mungantiwar to study the report. The CM’s purported remarks in the Council were interpreted by many as a rejection of the report by the government. The news was received with applause by pro-Vidarbha activists, who had criticised the Kelkar committee’s approach as a bid to protect the interests of western Maharashtra. The committee’s report, however, says it had used tehsil as a unit only for the sake of water, due to its tehsil-specific peculiarities, while the rest of the discussion used district as the unit.
As mandated, the committee had shifted the approach from the “backlog” concept, enunciated by all previous committees, to the “outcome indicators” concept that stressed development based on a particular region’s strengths.
This had not gone down well with Vidarbha activists, who continue to stick to the “backlog” concept.