Himachal Pradesh Annual Plan for 2011-12 has been approved at Rs. 3300 crore. It was decides in a meeting between Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prof. Prem Kumar Dhumal, Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, and other Members of the Planning Commission at New Delhi.

Initiating discussions, the Chief Minister apprised the Social Service Sector with an outlay of 29.26% of the total plan has been accorded first priority. He said that the State Government would strive to further improve its indicators in the education and health sectors. In the coming year, the government would consolidate its position and sustain the gains achieved in these sectors. For both these sectors, apart from the plan allocations, a substantial amount would be spent from the non-plan allocation. In the education sector, focus has been laid on quality improvement.

Prof. Dhumal said that in the Health Sector, concerted efforts were being made to make improvements in Infant Mortality Rate, Maternal Mortality Ratio and Child Sex Ratio in the State.

The Chief Minister added that the Transport and Communication sector had been accorded second priority, accounting for 19.26% of the plan size. With hardly any rail network or civil aviation facility in the State, the State Government has given one of the top priorities to development of road network. He said that strengthening and maintenance of the existing road network that goes over 31,000 km, and providing connectivity to the left-out villages would be given emphasis.

He said that third largest allocation had been made to the Energy sector. Hydro power was the most important potential resource for the State, and the government has been pursuing a policy of a judicious mix of public and private sector participation in hydro power development during 2010-11.

Agriculture and allied activities have also been given added priority. The proposed allocation was 11.94% of the total plan, which is almost double of the national average. Pandit Deen Dayal Kisan Bagwan Samridhi Yojna is the flagship programme of the State Government in agriculture sector, under which assistance is provided to farmers for constructing poly houses and for micro irrigation facilities. The State Government had taken up the matter with the Planning Commission and the Ministry of Agriculture, arguing that the States which had plan allocation of 10% or more in Agriculture and allied activities should be exempted from the eligibility criteria and the parameters of allocation under Rastriya Krishi Vikas Yojna. Prof. Dhumal added that a formal communication from the Government of India about the decision taken in the matter had not been intimated as yet and emphasized for the same.

Chief Minister said that despite repeated request of the State Government to do away the injustice meted out to the State by the 13th Finance Commission, nothing has been done so far. He said that the prevalent unduly high inflation rates have further worsened the position. Releasing 18% DA in a year when the Finance Commission recommends an yearly growth of mere 2% in salary expenditure hurts the State’s finances.

On the non-plan side, the Chief Minister urged for a financial assistance of Rs. 2500 crore from the Government of India. In addition, he also requested for an untied Special plan assistance of Rs. 1500 crore to finance the annual plan for 2011-12.

He said that in the Union budget presented yesterday, the allocation for special assistance for Special Category States has been almost doubled to Rs. 8000 crore for 2011-12 . Out of this, Rs. 5400 crore has been allocated as untied Special Central Assistance. While the Government of India has not paid any heed to State’s request for financial assistance on the non-plan side. He asked to accord to genuine request of the State for enhanced allocation of untied SPA for 2011-12 for funding the plan size, which in any case was quite modest.

Chief Minister said that the State had already suffered on account of fewer grants recommended by the 13th Finance Commission. He said that State should be allowed to borrow as per the limit worked out on fair formulation. As per the calculations submitted by the State to the Ministry of Finance and Planning commission, the borrowing ceiling for 2011-12 works out to Rs. 2034 crore; the Chief Minister urged that this issue be addressed quickly in consultation with the Ministry of Finance.