Monday, February 18, 2008

Sikkim Plan fixed at Rs 852 crore

New Delhi The Annual Plan for Sikkim for the year 2008-09 has been finalised at Rs 852 crore. This includes additional central assistance of Rs 77 crore for projects of special importance to the hill state. Deputy chairman, Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, at a meeting here with Sikkim chief minister, Pawan Chamling, complimented the whose human development indicators were ‘‘better than majority of states’’. Mr Ahluwalia also commended the state for promoting public-private partnership in the development process, according to an official release.

Sikkim performance during Tenth Plan was satisfactory, said the Plan panel, as it had almost achieved the growth targets. The state was advised to maintain the progress made in the agricultural sector by making concerted efforts to increase the area under agriculture without compromising efforts to improve the growth in horticulture and floriculture. The Plan panel has mooted a cluster approach for promoting horticulture and floriculture.

Among other thrust areas identified are tourism, horticulture/floriculture and human resource development. ‘‘These will not only generate revenue but also generate employment opportunities,’’ the release added.

On the state’s development strategy for the Eleventh Plan, Mr Chamling said over 40% of funds would be earmarked for the social sector. Within the sector, education would get the highest priority with 17% allocation. The state government was also keen on skill development, especially in the area of tourism, he added.

Chamling assured the Plan panel that efforts would continue to further improve fiscal health. He said elections to rural local bodies had been completed, and this would help accelerate the pace of development.

The chief minister, who sought adequate financial assistance from the Centre for setting up centre of excellence projects and establishment of a central university in Sikkim, said in addition low-volume, high value and eco-friendly industries would encouraged. He said policy initiatives had helped in creating an investment-friendly environment and over Rs 1,000 crore investment had already been committed.