Developing ‘Ram Van Gaman Marg’ (the route taken by Lord Ram on his way to 14-year exile) for tourism, special allocation for SC/ST/OBC and minorities, and more funds for health and education. These suggestions dominated the first-round meetings held by the 15th Finance Commission with representatives of urban and local bodies, and political parties in Lucknow on Monday.
The commission headed by its Chairman N K Singh was in Lucknow for two days. The BJP delegation was led by party state vice president J P S Rathore. It suggested steps to create “smart villages” to check migration towards cities. It also requested funds for plantation drives and construction of ‘mini-secretariats’ at the tehsil level. The state government has decided to plant 22 crore saplings this year and 25 crore next year.
A BJP spokesperson said the delegation requested promotion of religious and cultural tourism, including development of ‘Ram Van Gaman Marg’ for tourism along the route. Financial assistance was also sought for improvement of agricultural soil in Bundelkhand along with a focus on new universities and institutes for higher education.
Meanwhile, the Congress delegation, led by former Union Minister Salman Khurshid, raised the issue of inability of the government to utilise the allocated funds under different schemes like Ayushman Yojna, Kisan Samman Nidhi, loan waiver etc. It alleged that the state government was busy spending money in the schemes that promote its ideology and had failed in implementation of Central schemes. It claimed that the rural economy was in a slowdown mode and requested the commission to focus on financial empowerment of urban and rural bodies.
Samajwadi Party MP Ravi Verma and MLC Udaiveer Singh also attended the meeting. Udaiveer said the party made four demands: exempting farm machinery and produce from GST, increasing funds for panchayats, and more finances for health and education.