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‘Keep funds to states untied, so they can devise schemes by priorities’

In Mumbai recently to attract industry to MP, CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan spoke on the challenges before him.

Written by Vaidyanathan Iyer | Mumbai |
August 5, 2014 12:23:40 am
In Mumbai recently to attract industry to Madhya Pradesh, CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan spoke on the challenges before him in the third term. Source: Express Photo In Mumbai recently to attract industry to Madhya Pradesh, CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan spoke on the challenges before him in the third term. Source: Express Photo

In Mumbai recently to attract industry to Madhya Pradesh, CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan spoke on the challenges before him in the third term.

You have completed two terms. Have you identified the principal challenges that remain?
Our first priority was to spruce up infrastructure and improve the growth rate. Madhya Pradesh today tops all states with a growth rate of 11.02 per cent this year. Agricultural growth rate last year was 18.9 per cent, this year it is 24.99. We did this in the first two terms.

So what are the priorities now?
In our third term, we already have a roadmap and a vision document ready. The river-linking programme, which was Atalji’s dream, has to be undertaken at a faster pace. The Kshipra and Narmada rivers have been linked. Now, we are linking Narmada with Gambhir. The Centre has to play a facilitator in linking Betwa to Ken in UP. In irrigation, we are working on projects such as Bargi which aims to take Narmada water to the Ganga basin. We also have to encourage both big industry and the small scale sector to invest. We have launched a scheme where the state gives guarantee on bank loans between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 1 crore, and also a 5 per cent interest subsidy for five years… I have held investor summits in Delhi and Mumbai and am planning (one) in Bangalore. Today, MP is an ideal investment destination with sector-specific policies for textiles, power, agriculture, etc. While many power plants are coming, we are focusing on renewable energy. We have signed MoUs for about 2,000 MW, with plans to take it up to 4,000 MW.

You want to focus on generating jobs, but you do not have have flexible enough labour laws. Rajasthan has pushed through amendments…

We are doing what is required. I must emphasise that there are no strikes or manday loss in MP. We try to balance industry demands and labour welfare. On labour law reforms, we have a continuous dialogue with the industry… The industry has made many representations, one of them being the inability of women to work evening hours. To address this, we have allowed for three shifts in the textiles industry. So, based on industry suggestions, we do make it flexible.

What issues stuck in the previous regime can gather pace with the change in government?

The UPA government allotted coal blocks, based on which companies invested. But they did not receive forest and environmental clearance. Essar invested Rs 6,000 crore, but it got stuck. Several projects in irrigation, roads and power were held up due to lack of environmental clearances… My estimate is investment to the tune of Rs 25,000-30,000 crore was stuck.

Many states have had issues with national schemes like NREGA. What have you suggested to the new government?

I have suggested to the prime minister and the finance minister that if you have to change the face of rural india, MNREGA must be so structured that the labour component in the outlay is reduced and the material component increased. Right now, it is 60 (labour) :40 (material). I feel we must create productive and permanent assets and to do this the material component should be hiked to 50 or even 60 per cent. Also, how can we utilise MNREGA funds to improve agriculture where it is difficult to find labour…

States have had issues also with large central schemes such as Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and NRHM that have burdened them with significant manpower and hence additional expenditure.

We have asked the Centre to first prune the number of centrally sponsored states. Further; priorities of different states are different. The Centre must not thrust schemes on states. So, we have told the Centre to please talk to states. It is important that funds to states are kept untied, so that states can devise schemes given their priorities. Generally, the Centre floats a scheme and provides 90 per cent of funds, with states chipping in the balance. This gradually changes, with states required to take a higher share. We have told the Centre that you must fix the share right in the beginning and not to change it midway. We have also asked the Centre to increase the share of states in devolution to 50 per cent from 38 per cent.

A challenge before you as the chief minister is corruption charges in recruitment scams.

Madhya Pradesh has taken several steps to tackle corruption. We were the first state to legislate the Public Services Delivery Guarantee Act, wherein the government undertakes to complete works in specified time… Many states have followed suit. We have introduced e-tendering and e-payment in the works department. We have established special courts to hear cases of disproportionate assets. We introduced a transparent process for recruitment and recruited 3,58,490 people. Of these, 228 were identified as suspect and necessary action was taken.

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