A proposal to reconstitute the three statutory development boards, whose terms expired on April 30, has been opposed by the Finance department which has suggested that a “new concept” was needed to be put in place to remove the regional imbalances in the state and that it is not appropriate to give an extension to these boards.
On May 1, 1994, three statutory development boards — The Vidarbha Development Board, The Marathwada Development Board and The Rest of Maharashtra Development Board – were set up under Article 371(2) of the Constitution of India with a larger objective to tackle the regional imbalance in the allocation of funds, resources and development in backward regions of Maharashtra. It entrusted the responsibility of equitable allocation of funds for development expenditure with others on the Governor. Initially set up for five years, the development boards were subsequently granted extensions till April 2020.
Sources said a proposal has been moved to reconstitute the three development boards as their tenure ended on April 30. The proposal stated reconstitution of the boards was required considering their role in the last two decades and the more work required to remove the regional imbalance, sources said.
The government sources further said the proposal has been opposed by the Finance department stating that a “new concept” needs to be suggested to remove the regional imbalance in the state and it would not be appropriate to give a further extension to these boards. Citing the state’s economic condition due to Covid-19 outbreak and lockdown, the department also said that it is difficult to make the funds available for the development programmes of these boards, sources added.
The reconstitution of the development boards has become a contentious issue between Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, who has recommended the extension of the boards, and the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, which is yet to take a decision on it.
In March, NCP chief Sharad Pawar had expressed regret over the formation of the three boards without heeding the objection raised by former chief minister Shankarrao Chavan, who had then said it would give powers to the Governor to issue directions to the state on the distribution of funds.
Manoj Saunik, Additional Chief Secretary of the Finance department, said, “The government takes decisions on a proposal after considering it from various angles. This is an internal correspondence and I cannot comment on it.”
However, government officials said the Finance department has gone beyond its scope. “It is beyond the Finance department’s scope to suggest devising a new concept for removing the regional imbalance. They seem to have not done due diligence on it,” said a government official, adding that it comes under the jurisdiction of the Governor.
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