The eleven Indian Mountain States, three western Himalayan States of J&K, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand and the eight North Eastern States of Sikkim and the Seven Sisters, were recently announced an additional Special Central Assistance of Rs 1200 crores, over and above their normal Plan outlay. There is an interesting story behind how this last minute allocation could be secured. It was secured primarily through the efforts of four Members of Parliament who came from the mountain states of India and who had been keeping a hawks eye on the fast developing scenario at the national level.
As many readers may have followed the recommendations made by a Committee to Study Development in Hill States under the chairmanship of Sri BK Chaturvedi, Member Planning Commission, Government of India, who after two years deliberations had recommended an additional plan outlay, from the Central Sector, of at least 2 per cent of the Gross Budgetary Support ( GBS ), annually, for the remaining four years of the Twelfth Five Year Plan ( 2012-17 ). The recommendations could be submitted only during the first week of November 2013. So, there was hardly any time for this Report, so hugely important for these eleven mountain states, but the time was indeed running out. There was an impression that this valubale Report a bit too late in the day and it was quite unlikely that it would see the light of the day and benefit these states. In Uttarakhand, at least, every one believed that even this Report is headed towards the proverbial Bin ! Expressions like "Trashed" were used by many who should have made efforts to see how to leverage it in the din and dust of fast moving political sheningnans that hit Uttarakhand as well as the Centre ! Last days of the UPA II and politically uncertain days of Uttarakhand. Chief Minister Harish Rawat  was still the Union Minister Water Resources.
Amidst all such uncertainties four Members of Parliament led by redoubtable Mr PD Rai of Sikkim, and Mr Pradeep Tamta of Uttarakhand joined hands with two others from the North East India and wrote a joint letter to ensure that such a valuable report does not get "trashed", this time ! The remaining story is best revealed by Finance Minister PC Chidambaram's announcement rewarding  the eleven mountain states of India in his recent Budget Speech by a sum of Rs 1200 crores, INCLUDING FROM THIS FISCAL ITSELF. Going by the recommendations of this Planning Commission Committee;s recommendations these eleven states must receive at least a sum of Rs 10,000 crores of additional Central Plan outlay, over and above what has already been earmarked for the remaining fours years of the Twelfth Plan. The second year of the Twelfth Plan ends on the 31st March 2014, the third starts on the 1st April 2014.
Now, the moral of the story is NEVER SAY DIE. And, this moral is for all 30 plus Members of Parliament, regardless of the hue of their caps, white, saffron, green or just black ( no cap ) they all are expected to work for resource mobilization for the benefit of these mountain states. There are now a large number of  apolitical intelligentia who is very closely watching them, their actual performance and antics as well, and when they go to the hustings their assessment will be manifested through the ballot boxes. 
If the public representatives are being so evaluated and assessed so are the bureaucrats and their assessment will also be soon coming out in various ways. One such effective collective of concerned stakeholders has come about, spread over all eleven mountain states and is known as the Indian Mountain Initiative ( IMI ). One could even thank this emerging concerned peoples' collective that it left no stone unturned or untouched to ensure that  these eleven mountain states get short-changed.
As the Indian Mountain Initiative gains momentum the voice of these eleven mountain states would be heard louder than it has ever been. The games that our politicians and bureaucrats play will certainly be laid bare before the public at large as these are the times when no one is nobody's fool, as they say. We all have to work hard and rededicate ourselves to the service of the common and deserving people.
Our congratulations to these enlightened and public minded MPs who have made this happen. Now, will the bureaucracies of these eleven mountain states rise to the occasion and ensure that the additional outlays are drawn in time , spent properly and advance efforts are made to see that what has been recommended reaches to these eleven mountain states and their people ?

R S Tolia

Late Dr. R.S. Tolia, Ph.D., was former Chief Secretary ( 2003-05 ) and Chief Information Commissioner ( 2005-10) of Uttarakhand. He also served in various voluntary positions after retirement and devoted his time for Mountain Development Agenda.

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