Maharashtra government had appointed committee to study the issue of balanced development of various regions of Maharashtra. It was headed by well-known economist Vijay Kelkar. The committee appointed to study the issue of balanced development of various regions of Maharashtra, has recommended autonomous status for Vidarbha, noting that the region’s population feels neglected.
Recommendations of Kelkar Committee
Kelkar Committee’s recommendation report was recently put forward in the state Legislative Assembly. Key Recommendations of Vijay Kelkar committee was as follows:
• Autonomous status must be granted to Vidarbha-eastern region of Maharashtra, since people of this region feels neglected.
• This region should get autonomous status on the lines of Meghalaya as it was granted an autonomous status in 1969, when it was a part of Assam, by the 24th constitutional amendment.
• The people of Vidarbha feel that issues of the region are neglected by the Mumbai-headquartered government.
• It recommended the Shifting of the state secretariat to Nagpur- state’s second capital, for the month i.e. from 1st December to 31st December every year as a part of ‘Nagpur pact’
• The recommendation of Kelkar Committee was that all the important finance-related portfolios should be allocated to the leaders from Vidarbha.
• Some of the major directorates should be shifted to Aurangabad and Nagpur districts as recommended by Kelkar Committee.
• All Pending irrigation projects in Vidarbha should be completed on a priority basis.
• The Kelkar Committee also outlay the financial outlay of state: According to the Kelkar Committee, It should be classified into two categories- divisible and non-divisible. The divisible outlay will be divided among three regions of Vidarbha, Marathwada, and Rest of Maharashtra (RoM), excluding Mumbai. It recommended the 45 % divisible outlay for RoM, 33.24% for Vidarbha and 25.31% for Marathwada.
Other Recommendations of Kelkar Committee
It also says that all the pending irrigation projects in Vidarbha should be completed on a priority basis.
The committee also calls for equitable distribution of Mantralaya secretariat departments in Vidarbha, Marathwada, and RoM in accordance with the Nagpur pact.
A cotton mission, regional horticulture mission, fodder and animal husbandry mission should be set up for Vidarbha and Marathwada regions, while a rice mission be set up for Nagpur division, According to Kelkar Committee.
Agriculture and forestry University should be established in Chandrapur district of Vidarbha. The region should get two per cent concession in sales tax to attract manufacturing industries, the committee proposes, apart from reduction of one per cent in interest on capital obtained from banks.
A free trade warehousing area should be established under MIHAN project in Nagpur, while Parbhani-Hingoli-Washim districts in the region should be declared as textile region, the work of Ratnagiri-Nagpur national higway should be expedited, it says.
Interestingly, the committee points out that Vidarbha’s per capita income is 27 per cent less than that of RoM, though it allocates bigger share of divisible outlay to latter.
Further, it states, “In the past 15 years, structural changes in various enterprises and regional changes in political powers in the coalition governments also contributed to increase in regional imbalances and difference in per capita income of various regions.”
Vidarbha has lagged behind the most when it comes to development of transport and communication networks and health, it notes.
The committee has recommended independent definite financial allocation for a limited period in priority sector under plan component — Rs 1,798 crore for 44 water-stressed tehsils; Rs 1,732 crore for 85 tehsils with groundwater adversity; Rs 2,520 crore for ex-Malgujari tanks; and Rs 542 crore for saline belt.
Of these four areas, the first two are expected to benefit mostly RoM and parts of Marathwada, while the remaining two will benefit Vidarbha and Marathwada.
It recommends increasing the irrigation level in administrative divisions of Amravati, Aurangabad, Nagpur, Nashik and Konkan vis a vis the Pune division, where it is the highest as of now.
The panel has also asked for maximum utilisation of water resources in Nagpur and Konkan divisions, by “overcoming the limitations of Forest Conservation Act or administrative/political will.”
Other recommendations include a reconsideration of ‘No Fail Policy’ in schools, construction of airport in every district, setting up of state statistical board, agriculture college for each tehsil, and agriculture polytechnic in clusters of villages with population of one lakh.
Maharashtra Agricultural Industries Development Corporation should be broken up into regional corporations for Vidarbha, Marathwada, Western Maharashtra, and Konkan; there should be Credit Guarantee Corporation for micro, small, and medium enterprises, the panel suggests.