Road to success

Published : Jul 13, 2007 00:00 IST

The Vidhan Sabha complex by night. From e-governance to good governance: that is the government's slogan.-PICTURES: A.M. FARUQUI

The Vidhan Sabha complex by night. From e-governance to good governance: that is the government's slogan.-PICTURES: A.M. FARUQUI

The State has been making rapid progress in all fields under the Shivraj Singh Chauhan government.

IN the past three years, Madhya Pradesh has made great strides in all sectors of its economy and also in the social sector. The State government has evolved people-centric policies and implemented them in such a manner that people in both rural and urban areas have benefited from them. Be it in developing infrastructure, providing health and education to all, generating employment opportunities or attracting investments, the Bharatiya Janata Party government in the State has made significant headway.

The State, owing to its central location, can be conveniently accessed from all corners of the country and this makes it a prime destination for investors from all over. Good law and order situation and a stable political climate also make it an attractive proposition for investors. The State is the first natural choice for industries of all types owing to its abundant wealth of natural resources. This has led to a boom in the manufacturing sector. Sectors such as information technology, food processing, and biotechnology have also started showing upward movement.

In order to improve the investment climate further, a mega global investors' meet is being planned in the State in October this year. The State government hopes that the three-day event, christened "Destination Madhya Pradesh: Global Investors Summit", will help it bag fresh proposals for investment in various fields. As a precursor to the meet, a delegation led by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan visited the United States and the United Kingdom from May 10-20 in order to invite non-resident Indians (NRIs) and foreign entrepreneurs to invest in the State. The visit proved successful. Prominent NRI investors evinced keen interest in the State and promised to participate in the meet. The Chief Minister, on his part, promised prospective investors that the government would do everything possible to facilitate their participation in the State's development. A resolution passed in St. Louis aimed at achieving mutual cooperation and support, and the setting up of a US-India Centre.

Promoting industry has not meant that agriculture is ignored. The government has taken a number of farmer-friendly decisions that have greatly boosted agricultural production. A significant step in this direction was an agri-business meet held on May 25-26. Over 150 representatives from renowned industrial houses participated. As many as 20 memoranda of understanding (MoUs), involving a total investment of Rs.6,200 crore for setting up various agro-based industries were signed at the meet between investors and various undertakings of the State government in the presence of the Chief Minister. The Chief Minister assured the investors that they would not face any bureaucratic hurdles, and this has had a positive impact on the investment climate. The policies and the incentives being offered by the State government have greatly appealed to investors.

At the same time, the Chief Minister announced the setting up of a forum to establish regular dialogue between farmers and entrepreneurs so that the farmers get reasonable prices for their agriculture produce. The Chief Minister's initiatives are all directed at making agriculture a highly profitable occupation.

The MoUs reached on the occasion pertain to Ratanjot (Jatropha) cultivation, development of barren land, establishment of sugar factories, setting up of food processing units, agriculture research, organic food processing, seed production, and potato cultivation and processing.

A prominent MoU signed is one between the Madhya Pradesh Agro Industries Corporation and the Mumbai-based Ruchi Soya Industries Limited involving an investment of Rs.1,000 crore. An agreement with the New Delhi-based Mission Bio-Fuels India Private Limited for Jatropha cultivation involves an investment of Rs.500 crore. Two MoUs worth Rs.400 crore each were signed to kickstart animal husbandry and a plant for fat cheese production with the New Delhi-based Hind Agro Industries Limited and Daisy Agrotech respectively. There were also MoUs involving investment between Rs.20 lakh and Rs.1,000 crore in various fields related to agriculture.

The signing of an MoU between the State-owned Trade & Investment Facilitation Corporation (TRIFAC) and US Pneumatic Company, St. Louis, during the Chief Minister's US tour is aimed at sustainable cultivation on a business plane in the tribal areas of the State. A key feature of this MoU is that TRIFAC would spend the entire income from this project on the economic development and welfare of tribal people living below the poverty line.

Yet another initiative of the government, which would go a long way in helping farmers, is the export of mangoes to the US in exchange for pistachio from that country. The US company Paramount Farms has shortlisted Madhya Pradesh as one of the three States in India for this purpose. During the Chief minister's US visit, many industrialists expressed, to the visiting delegation, an interest in taking up contract farming in India which would ultimately give farmers a fair price for their produce.

The agriculture productivity awards that have come the State's way over the years is a measure of the government's success in the farm sector. The newly set-up agro-parks and agro-export zones also point to a new era in agro-processing in the State.

The government's commitment to improve agriculture is also reflected in the fact that investment in water resources has been the single largest revenue expenditure of the State since this government came to power. Thirty-three per cent of the State is already under irrigation, and new areas are being added every year. A World Bank-assisted water sector restructuring project aims to spruce up the existing canal network in the State with concrete lining, repair of distribution structures and creation of new water bodies and thereby develop a more effective way of water consumption.

With a fertile arable land area of 15 million hectares, 11 agro climatic zones, the largest area in the country under forest cover, rich biodiversity, abundant rainfall and a wide range of crops, Madhya Pradesh is already the leading State in terms of agricultural activity. The State is the top producer of soyabean, pulses, garlic, green pea and seed spices in the country. It is also among the top five producers of wheat.

In order to encourage floriculture, the State Horticulture Department has laid out demonstration plots of rose, rajnigandha, aster, genda, guldawoodi and gladiola in farmers' fields. Under the flower demonstration scheme, 2,900 demonstration plots have been laid out in the current year as opposed to 1,976 plots during the same period last year. Of this, 2,631 plots have been laid out in the fields of farmers belonging to the general category while the remaining plots are in the fields of Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe farmers.

The department pays Rs.4,000 per demonstration plot to each farmer towards expenses on fertilizers, seeds and saplings; 75 per cent of it is in the form of grant.

A major indicator of a State's development is the condition of its roads. Madhya Pradesh, until the Chauhan government took over, was a nightmare as far as its roads were concerned. In fact, bad roads as a major campaign issue tilted the balance in favour of the BJP in the last Assembly elections. Good roads have seen a major improvement after this government took over. In 2006-07, an investment of Rs.1,017.91 crore was made for the construction of 857 roads running to a total length of 3,788 kilometres under the Prime Minister's Rural Road Programme (Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana). This has benefited 1,395 villages, the biggest achievement for the State ever since this programme was launched in December 2000. A total of 13,832 km of roads, linking 5,096 villages with the mainstream, have been constructed since then. Even villages that were cut off from the main roads until now have been given connectivity.

The Public Works Department (PWD) has built roads measuring over 14,411.89 km at a cost of Rs.3,263.9 crore in the last three years. This includes 2,150 km of roads built by the Madhya Pradesh Rural Road Development Corporation at a cost of Rs.1,180 crore.

The PWD built 2,088 km of roads under the national highways sector in the State at a cost of Rs. 433.04 crore, while the Central Road Fund built roads running to 1,318.11 km at a cost of Rs. 212.09 crore. Further, the PWD has constructed 2,414.32 km of roads at a cost of Rs.469.78 crore under the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) scheme apart from the 708.03-km-long and 3,296.05-km-long roads at Rs.278.22 crore and Rs.215.15 crore respectively under Budget Works and Fast Track schemes. Also, 2,100.77-km-long roads were constructed at a cost of Rs.279.76 crore under the Farmers' Fund.

Similarly, the Madhya Pradesh State Road Development Corporation has constructed many roads with the assistance of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and HUDCO.

Besides the PWD, the State has other efficient agencies to oversee the development of roads in rural areas. For the implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, an agency called the Madhya Pradesh Rural Road Development Authority has been created. Thirty-eight Project Implementation Units (PIUs) for 48 districts have been constituted to coordinate the works, executed by contractors and supervised by the consultants.

The Authority has a general body, which is chaired by the Chief Minister. This body lays down the policy guidelines and monitors the programme. There is also an empowered committee under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary, which, besides monitoring projects, takes the financial and administrative decisions. The project proposals are scrutinised and sanctioned by this committee. It also accords final sanction to the master plan/core network of the State. At the district level, the programme is planned, coordinated, and implemented through the PIUs.

Master plans are prepared at the block level, which are later synchronised at the district level. They indicate the habitations and the existing status of road connectivity, including the proposed new construction as well as roads requiring upgradation.

The district master plans so prepared are subject to scrutiny in order to arrive at the most economical alignment of the roads. It also indicates the priority of roads to be taken up for construction/upgradation in a phased manner. The master plans are approved by the governing body of the respective zilla panchayats, taking into account the views and suggestions of the local Member of the Legislative Assembly or Member of Parliament. Thereafter, the District Planning Board gives the approval for the master plan.

For works to be taken up each year depending on priority, project proposals are prepared and forwarded to the Empowered Committee for approval.

The State-level Empowered Committee forwards the approved proposals to the Central government for administrative sanction and release of funds. On clearance of the project proposals by the Central government, the relevant projects are executed by the PIUs and completed within a period of nine months. The well-established procedure for tendering, through competitive bidding, is followed for all projects. The projects are tendered in packages of appropriate size (between Rs.1 crore and Rs.5 crore).

The biggest challenge before the government, into its fourth year now, is to improve the work culture within the government and resolve people's problems as fast as possible. Completing projects that have been pending for years - such as the Omkareshwar, Maheshwar and Bansagar dams and the Bina refinery - is a major challenge before the government.

Bringing the State's finances back on track was another major challenge and this has been done successfully without imposing any new tax on the people. The government has adopted a number of micro and macro strategies to revitalise the economy. Infrastructure is being improved while at the same time adhering to fiscal discipline.

The State has realised that foreign and domestic investment can be attracted through its IT policy; hence incentives and awards have been given in order to encourage the use of IT in e-governance. From e-governance to good governance: that is the motto of the State government.

Results have already started showing. Samadhan Online has meant that there is a fourfold increase in the speed of redress of grievances, while e-kiosks provide necessary information and documents to the people. Ten thousand e-kiosks will be established for the purpose.

Finances are not a constraint as adequate budgetary support has been announced by the government for all departments opting for e-governance. Special attention is being paid towards providing and maintaining computers in remote places.

IT expansion is expected to increase job opportunities on a large scale. It has already ensured a decrease in corruption in governance.

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