Nat'l Development Council to discuss Naxal issue for 1st time

New Delhi: The National Development Council (NDC) will take up the issue of naxalism in the country at a meeting scheduled on July 24, where a mid-term review of the XI Plan will also be approved.

The naxal issue, which poses a serious threat to national security, has never been discussed by the NDC in the past.

The nation's apex planning body, the NDC comprising all the Union Ministers and Chief Ministers, will also deliberate on the low growth rate in the agriculture and power sector, a source said.

In the recent past, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had also asked the Planning Commission to work out a special package for Naxal-infested regions.

The panel is also in the process of finalising a special package of over Rs 3,400 crore to be evenly distributed among 34 naxal-hit districts in the country.

Plan panel Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia has called an internal meeting of the commission to firm up its views on the problem of naxalism, which will be presented before the NDC on July 24.

In 2008, the Home Ministry had identified 33 districts in eight states affected by Left Wing extremism. This includes areas in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh.

The low growth in agriculture has been another big challenge for the UPA-II, as the targeted growth of four per cent has not been maintained in the XI Five-Year Plan, as well as in the previous period of five years.

Another major concern is the power sector, where the plan panel had to scale down the generation capacity addition target to 62,374 MW from 78,577 MW in its mid-term-review placed before the Planning Commission meeting headed by the Prime Minister on March 23.

In the mid-term review document, the commission had lowered the growth rate for the current plan to 8.1 per cent from 9 per cent in the wake of the global financial crisis that slowed the rate of the country's economic expansion.

The commission had projected in the mid-term review that the economy would expand by 8.5 per cent in the current fiscal, which would improve to 9 per cent in 2011-12. It is a practice that after getting full plan panel clearance, the mid-term review is placed before the Cabinet and then the NDC for final approval.

The commission had set an average annual growth target of 9 per cent for the XI Plan (2007-12), beginning with 8.5 per cent in the first year and closing with 10 per cent in the last year.

Following the global financial meltdown, the growth rate had slipped to 6.7 per cent in 2008-09 from over 9 per cent in the preceding three years. Thereafter, the growth recovered to 7.4 per cent last fiscal.

To achieve a high growth rate, the commission suggested focusing on fiscal consolidation and maintaining an investor- supportive economic environment.