Devpt Boards will remain functional, says Mungantiwar

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 14 Mar 2018 10:10:57


Staff Reporter,

But, a look at the ground situation reveals that some posts are still lying vacant


Sudhir Mungantiwar, Finance and Planning Minister, stressed on Tuesday that Development Boards for Vidarbha, Marathwada, and Rest of Maharashtra regions would remain functional as they have come into existence under Constitutional provisions. His statement has come at a time when the posts of Members of the Legislative Assembly and representatives of local authorities are lying vacant.

Mungantiwar made the statement in reply to a point of propriety raised in this regard by Eknath Khadse, senior MLA and former Revenue Minister, in the Legislative Assembly during the ongoing Budget Session in Mumbai on Tuesday. The statement is important for all three Development Boards in the State including Vidarbha Development Board (VDB).

In his reply, Mungantiwar said that the Governor of Maharashtra had appointed Expert Members on these Boards. However, as the Governor’s Directives of 2011 mentioned that there was no need to allocate special fund to these Boards, no provision for such a fund is made, he added. Raising the matter, Khadse furiously suggested that if the posts of Chairman, Expert Members, employees remained vacant for a long time and there was no provision for special fund, the Government should dissolve the Development Boards.

He alleged that the developmental backlog of backward areas was increasing and the regional imbalance in development was widening. “No measures are taken to remove the backlog. Hence, the Government should declare that backlog was removed and dissolve the Boards,” he suggested in a satirical tone.

It may be mentioned here that the Development Boards came into existence under Article 371 (2) of the Constitution of India in 1994. In accordance with the powers delegated to him, the Governor of Maharashtra established three Statutory Development Boards for Vidarbha, Marathwada, and Rest of Maharashtra on April 30, 1994. The Chairman and the Expert Members were appointed on the Board on June 25, 1994. As per the Development Boards Order, the term of Development Boards was to expire on April 30, 2015. However, considering the contribution of the Boards and the fact that the regional imbalance was yet to be removed, the President of India extended the term of the Boards up to April 30, 2020.

Sadly, at present, as far as VDB is concerned, the posts of Members of Legislative Assembly and representatives of local authorities are vacant. A mention of this could be found in the latest annual report of VDB for the year 2016-17, which was tabled in the State Legislature during winter session in December 2017. One Member of Legislative Assembly from each Revenue division (in case of Vidarbha, from Amravati and Nagpur divisions), were to be appointed as VDB members for every two-and-a-half years, turn-by-turn. Besides, one representative each from rural and urban local authority under the jurisdiction of the Board was to be appointed as member for every two-and-a-half years, turn-by-turn.

Further, VDB must have five Expert Members. It had Adv Madhukarrao Kimmatkar, Dr Ravindra Kolhe, Dr Anand Bang, Dr Kapil Chandrayan, and Dr Kishor Moghe as Expert Members. However, following the demise of Adv Kimmatkar recently, there exists one vacancy in VDB.

If one examines the situation on ground, the VDB is empowered to conduct various studies. It has been conducting important studies and has submitted several reports to the Governor’s office. The Governor’s office also forwarded these reports to the Government. However, for years, it has been a lament of the region that the desired concrete outcome did not follow the submission of these study reports. Every year, two to three reports are submitted by the Board to the Governor’s office. In the recent past, the Board submitted a report on fisheries development in Vidarbha. The Minister concerned had announced that the experts who had prepared this report would be appointed on State-level committee on fisheries development. However, nothing has happened so far.

Besides, though the Boards are functioning, it has been a long pending demand to expand their scope of functioning. Often, the experts have demanded further strengthening of the Boards by way of delegation of powers to them for regional planning, and according of Constitutional validity. It was even felt that the views of the Boards should be considered while preparing budget. Late Adv Madhukarrao Kimmatkar also had favoured strengthening of the Boards and had suggested that the Boards must have key role in planning process.