Workshop on Rethinking the methodology of participatory local level planning in Kerala (Aug 11, 2011)

11 August 2011
Organised by CDS-RULSG

Thiruvananthapuram, Aug. 11:
The Vice-Chairman of the State Planning Board, Mr K.M. Chandrasekhar, has said that the academic community and people’s representatives should interact frequently to generate ideas to steer local-level planning.
The Centre for Development Studies (CDS), a think-tank based here, can anchor the initiative with universities, non-government institutions and other stakeholders chipping, he added.

Mr Chandrasekhar made these comments while inaugurating a one-day workshop on ‘Rethinking the methodology of participatory local level planning in Kerala’ hosted here on Thursday by the CDS.
Prof Pulapre Balakrishnan, Director, Dr K.N. Harilal, Coordinator, CDS, and Mr S.M. Vijayanand, who headed the department of local-self government during the formative years of people’s planning, were present on the occasion.
During the last 15 years or so, the State has returned a reasonable seven to eight per cent growth in per capita income/gross domestic product, Mr Chandrasekhar said. But sectoral growth in the macro-economy has been lopsided at best and undesirable at worst.

For instance, he said that while the services sector encompassing tourism, IT and the hospitality sectors have witnessed steady growth, the farm sector left much to be desired.
Small and medium units and manufacturing also have not witnessed the kind of growth normally expected of them. They suggest themselves as sectors deserving focused attention from planners, going forward.
Infrastructure is conspicuous for its weather-beaten presence in most places, if not for its sheer lack in some others.
This is despite large resources having been transferred to the panchayats under the local-level planning. Roads lack maintenance and are in bad condition, Mr Chandrasekhar said, and this state of affairs can be ascribed to a number of reasons.

While preparing the plan document for the 12th Five Year Plan, particular stress would need to be given to reverse these conditions. The Planning Board Vice-Chairman also called for attention to the crying need for toning up inland waterway system, the railways and civil aviation.
Solid waste management as a major problem which the State would find itself confronted with as urbanisation gathers further momentum. Mr Chandrasekhar reiterated that local self-governments and grassroots-level planning would continue to be given the pride of place in the 12th Five Year Plan.
“Problems in implementation of the current plans need to be aired and solutions found before we begin. Ideas from stakeholders would be integrated into the Plan document,” he said.

The State is also home to one of the largest armies of educated unemployed. This calls for expedited and meaningful programmes aimed at skill development. The panchayats and the State Government would need to find common ground to tackle this issue and priorities would need to be fixed.
While reminding the audience that the total Plan size of the State has not been fixed, Mr Chandrasekhar called for efforts to make maximum possible use of available funds. He cited the need to explore, and if possible exhaust, external source of funds including those in the private sector.

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