25 years ago the Development Boards (DBs) was established with an objective to ensure equitable distribution of Development Funds within the three regions of the state and further ensure equitable development of the three regions.
Established in 1994 with an objective to ensure equitable distribution of Development Funds within the three regions of the state and further ensure equitable development of the three regions.
The DBs completed 25 years in 2019–20. During these years there have been various achievements as well as shortcomings of the DBs.
The Development Boards play an important in the development of Underdeveloped Regions like Vidarbha & Marathwada. Dr. Kapil Chandrayan President, Central for Development Research-informed about why the Development Boards are necessary for the development of the city.
- As per the Annual Directives of Hon. Governor the physical backlog of the irrigation sector in the 4 districts of Amravati Division of Vidarbha still exists. These districts are Amravati, Akola, Buldhana & Washim. The Water Resources department has set a target to nullify the backlog by June 2022. Taking into consideration the past & present rate of removal of this backlog, this target seems unachievable. So scrapping of the DBs before this backlog is removed will not only be injustice to the region of Vidarbha but will also be a clear violation of the spirit of Article 371(2) of the constitution.
- The state government claims that there is no financial backlog in any part of Vidarbha or Marathwada and the only physical backlog remaining is as mentioned in the above point 1. But we must not forget that these backlog figures have been calculated as per the base of year 1994. In other words we are still struggling to remove backlog of the year 1994. There has been no calculation of backlog since then. It would be advisable to constitute a separate committee to calculate the developmental backlog as per the current situation. Till then scrapping of the DBs will be a self-destructive move from the point of view of balanced regional development.
- Since 2011, the DBs have been given the additional role of Regional Planning, i.e. preparation of Regional Developmental Plans. Unfortunately very limited work has been done in this regard by the various DBs. The DBs should be reconstituted with a larger Developmental Mandate so that they can effectively perform the role of Regional Planning.
- Since last 25 Years the DBs have been vigilantly monitoring the state finances and have, on many occasions, stopped diversion of funds from one region to another. In the absence of the DBs there would be no such mechanism to stop the diversion of funds and hence it is imperative to provide extension to the Development Boards.
- Finally, the Development Boards are the last legitimate and statutory platform for raising the developmental concerns of the underdeveloped regions. If the DBs are not provided extension, it would be equivalent to taking away the voice of the underdeveloped regions, which would not only be immoral but also unjust towards the people of such regions.
Hence there is an urgent need to provide immediate extension to the Development Boards and also reconstitute them with a larger mandate for the balanced development of the state of Maharashtra in general and that of the backward regions in particular.
The recent following incidences are sufficient enough that the state government policies are not in favour of balanced regional development:
- The Magnetic Maharashtra 2.0 in 2020 ended in signing of 12 MoUs worth Rs. 16,000 crores, none of them landing in Vidarbha. In the absence of the Development Board, hardly any voices were raised against the move.
- For the severe floods that recently took place in Eastern Vidarbha, the state government allocated a meagre amount of Rs. 16.50 Crore shows the indifference of the state government towards Vidarbha.
- The scrapping of the regional quota in medical seats is a clear violation of the Nagpur Pact, the promises made by the first Chief Minister of Maharashtra in the assembly of the state and various policies and promises framed thereafter.
All these indicative examples are the tip of the iceberg but are sufficient to show why the Development Boards are necessary.
Dr Chandrayan in his research found the issue and process of giving Extension to the Development Boards and based on the certain replies to RTI applications from the Governor’s Office led to the following conclusions:
- There is no role of the state government of Maharashtra in the process of extending the boards’ tenure. There is not a single document, rule, order or law which provides any role to the state government.
- The role of the state government (as is being projected today) is just merely a matter of practice that has been followed since long. As said earlier there is no legal backing to it.
- The State Government has no role whatsoever in the appointment of the Chairpersons, Public Representative Members and Expert Members of the Board. It is purely a responsibility (not right) of the Hon. Governor.
Hence I have prayed to Hon. Governor of the state through a letter dated 7th September 2020 that:
- Article 371(2) and the subsequent Presidential orders have mandated yourself and your good office to appoint, regulate and extend the Development Boards in the light of the balanced regional development of the state.
- Please do away with any interference of the state government and take the reins of the Development Boards in your hands. Accept no interference of the State Government in any process such as grant of extension, appointment of Chairpersons and Members of the Board.
- Immediately grant extension to the Development Boards and appoint apolitical and regionally dedicated persons on the post of Chairman and professionally competent people as members.
In the absence of any action in this regard the only action left for the people of Vidarbha and Marathwada would be to seek justice from the court of law.