The fifth meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog was held under the chairmanship of the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi at Rashtrapati Bhawan today. It was attended by the Governor of Jammu & Kashmir, 27 Chief Ministers and the Lieutenant Governor of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, apart from Union Ministers, who are ex-officio members and special invitees.
Setting the tone of the meeting, the PM emphasized that this is the meeting of Team India. The PM has asked the states to contribute and improve their contribution in meeting the GDP target. While there may be political differences, in this meeting people of India expect that this team India should take all steps to realize the aspiration of ever Indian. The Prime Minister highlighted the importance of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog as a platform to inspire cooperative federalism, stressing the need to collectively combat poverty, unemployment, drought, pollution, pockets of under-development and all such factors that constrain India’s progress. He emphasized that the goal is to realize the potential of this great country, to make a New India by 2022 and a USD five trillion economy by 2024.
The Prime Minister emphasized the need for every State to focus on increasing its share in the country’s GDP by evaluating the export potential of the State and determining the steps necessary for increasing exports and boosting employment.
Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog urged all States to offer their suggestions on the policy recommendations contained in NITI Aayog’s ‘Strategy for New India @ 75’ so that they can be tweaked to suit the ground realities in individual States.
On the Agenda before the Fifth Council Meetingwere the following items:
- Rain-Water Harvesting
- Drought Situation and Relief Measures
- Aspirational Districts Programme – Achievements And Challenges
- Transforming Agriculture: Need For Structural Reforms With Special Emphasis On:
- Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act
- Essential Commodities Act (ECA)
- Security Related Issues with Specific Focus On LWE Districts
The Prime Minister appreciated the efforts of the States towards water conservation and urged all States to streamline and implement innovative water management measures. The creation of the Ministry of ‘Jal Shakti’ is a key step by the Union Government to develop an integrated and holistic perspective on water as a developmental resource.
There was broad consensus on reducing water wastage, promoting efficient water conservation practices across States, with rain-water harvesting to be undertaken at the household and community level with proactive policy and investment support. Various Chief Ministers presented best practices from their respective states which can serve as templates for replication across the country.
Many States such as Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Karnataka have adopted good practices in water conservation and rainwater harvesting. Someinnovative steps include the Jalyukt Shivirin Maharashtra which made 11,000 villages drought free, Mukhya Mantri Jal Swavalamban Abhiyaan which resulted in five feet rise in groundwater in 21 districts, and Mission Kakatiyain Telangana which irrigates 19 Lakh Acres. Similarly, Neeru Chettuin Andhra Pradesh, Sujalam Sufalamin Gujarat and artificial recharge scheme in Karnataka show that determined action produces good results. Chief Minister of Bihar highlighted the decision taken by the State Government to ensure that all Government buildings in the State have a provision for rainwater harvesting.
The Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh urged the Central Government to consider developing acomprehensive drought management plan that can be applicable across States.
The Prime Minister also called upon to undertake foundational reforms in the agri-economy, leading to a complete transformation of the agriculture sector in India. The core agenda items included the need to review the implementation of the APMC Act and possible reform in the form of the Model APMC Act as well as exploring changes in the Essential Commodities Act, to ensure fair remuneration for the farmers, streamlining of supply, driving more investment into the sector and predictability of policy at national and regional levels. The Prime Minister emphasized the need for undertaking structural reforms in agriculture including encouraging corporate investment, strengthening logistics and focusing on food processing.
On Aspirational Districts Programme rapid progress has been achieved across all Aspirational Districts that have participated in this programme in 49 key performance indicators of human and social development. Various Chief Ministers noted the success of the programme in their respective States and also discussed possible challenges and schemes for extension of the programme to rapidly develop blocks in remote and difficult areas so that the spirit of inclusive development is effectively enforced. The Prime Minister commended the district administration teams on implementing several ‘out-of-the-box’ ideas in the Aspirational Districts resulting in significant transformation in many districts such as Khagariya in Bihar, Bokaro in Jharkhand and Mewat in Haryana.
The Prime Minister said that many aspirational districts are affected by Naxal violence. He said the battle against Naxal violence is now in a decisive phase. He said violence will be dealt with firmly, even as development proceeds in a fast-paced and balanced manner.Further reaffirming the commitment of the Government to combat Left Wing Extremism (LWE), Hon. Prime Minister assured the Council that the Ministry of Home Affairs will coordinate with all affected States to decisively end LWE, and drive the agenda of development in these regions.
On Left Wing Extremism, Hon. Union Home Minister informed that steadfast implementation of National Policy & Action Plan started in 2015 has resulted in significant success in combating the LWE problem. Centre and States have collaborated for this endeavor.
The geographical area of influence of LWE has shrunk and the number of perpetrators of violence has declined significantly. He further ensured that the Center will continue to provide assistance to the state in order to completely eradicate this issue over next ten years. The Center Government has already started carrying out essential steps in achieving this target by deploying Centre Armed Police Force in a big way to help stated carry out sustainable operations against Maoists.
There has also been an equally strong focus on developing road and telecom infrastructure in these areas. About 11,000 KM of roads are being constructed at the cost of Rs 18000 crore of which 5500 km of road has already been completed. In order to improve telecom connectivity, 2335 mobile towers have also been installed and in next phase, 4072 towers costing 11,000 Crore will be installed.
The Prime Minister noted the progress made by States towards ensuring a TB Free India by 2025. He urged all States to participate in the Ayushman Bharat programme which is benefitting large numbers of underprivileged families. The Prime Minister emphasized that along the lines of Swachh Bharat, we must now make Swasth Bharata Jan Andolan.
The Finance Minister appreciated the positive engagement and cooperation between the Centre and the States in the GST Council. She also highlighted the unprecedented devolution of a large share of funds from the Centre to the States over the last four years.
The Prime Minister in his concluding remark reemphasized on India’s need to prioritise its water challenges and make appropriate interventions to solve them. He said water conservation and irrigation, both require a massive effort, based on public participation.
The Prime Minister announced the creation of a high powered committee on structural reforms in agriculture. He further called upon States to review the progress of Aspirational Districts from time to time and expressed the need of a new model of governance needs to be established in aspirational districts.
The Prime Minister said global circumstances currently offer a unique opportunity to India. He said India is establishing itself on global benchmarks such as Ease of Doing Business. He said we should endeavour to make India a 5 trillion dollar economy by 2024, at the earliest. The Prime Minister said that for this purpose, States should aim to increase their economy by 2 to 2.5 times. He said the common man's purchasing power would increase as a result of this.
He called upon Chief Ministers to study the State's export potential, and work on export promotion.
The Prime Minister said that the mining sector can provide significant employment opportunities. He said that bottlenecks in operationalization of mines continue to exist in several States. He said the NITI Aayog is working on these issues.
The Prime Minister thanked the Chief Ministers for their suggestions and reiterated that that the Union Government is keen to partner with the States, and work together for India's development.