Tuesday, October 30, 2012

IDA Standing Committee Meeting: Indecisive and Inconclusive


IDA Standing Committee Meeting:
Indecisive and Inconclusive

By Staff Reporter

The Standing Committee of Island Development Authority, which met on 17 Oct 2012 at Planning Commission were less agenda and more point-scoring on tribal issues and vision document for the Islands. The IDA meetings has been a fiasco as no issues are discussed in detail and taken to a logical conclusion.
With very short time at disposal, it is learnt that most of the time was once again consumed by the Member of Parliament, who raised the issue of Viper Island and brain-mapping. The same thing had happened in last IDA meeting in which Bishnu Pada Ray had incensed Pranab Mukherjee, then Finance Minister and P Chidambaram, Home Minister.
Commenting on the Standing Committee meeting of IDA, Jalaj Srivastav, Principal Secretary, Planning said that there has to be certain structure to this meeting. Many issues related with education, health and social welfare could not be discussed in the meeting due to paucity of time. He also said that it was decided that Action Taken Note (ATN) will not be discussed in the Standing Committee Meeting. It will be disposed off in the quarterly meetings at the level of Secretary, Planning Commission. At the Standing Committee level, there will be maximum ten issues. And the IDA meeting at Prime Minister Level there should not be more than four issues.
The Admn has placed a demand for 193 posts in education department and has sought to increase the quota of seats for MBBS and BDS for A & N Island's students. It has mentioned that more seats are required till the new Medical College is established in A & N Islands. It has also placed on agenda the demand for posting of specialists from CHS non-teaching specialists' cadre to A&N Islands on regular basis and reservation of PG seats in Medical Colleges.
Another agenda is the demand for transfer of committed liabilities from Plan to Non-Plan. As per standard practice, salary and allowances to the posts created and maintenance expenditure of assets created in a Plan period ought to be transferred to Non-Plan. Committed liabilities of 7th plan were transferred to Non-plan budget in 1990-91 with some reductions. Since then, such liabilities were not transferred.
A request was also made for extension of validity period of erstwhile Coastal Zone Management Plan, 1991 for next two years or till new plans (IIMP & CZMP as per CRZ, 2011) are finalised.
For very small projects such as toilets, changing rooms etc. on beach side, way-side, the Admn has place the demand to waive off Rapid EIA norms. It has also requested to give powers to a local committee under the Chief Secretary (with experts from domain area) to conduct REIA for the projects allowed at the level of ANCZMA for projects under Rs.5 Crore.
Admn has also demanded delisting of Trochus Niloticus (Sea shell) which is used by the local handicraft artisans. Zoological Survey of India conducted a survey and recommended lifting of the ban initially for three years. A & N Admn submitted a proposal to MoEF for delisting of species for a period of three years.
It also demanded inclusion of Long Island and Neil Island in ICRZ category. Initially four Islands, North Andaman, Middle Andaman, South Andaman and Great Nicobar were in ICRZ category. Subsequently NCZMA in its 25th meeting recommended inclusion of four more Islands - Baratang, Havelock, Little Andaman & Car Nicobar.
Sand mining in the Islands was reduced, as per Supreme Court's decision dated 07 May 2002. The Amdn informed the Standing Committee that practically no sand mining was carried during last 3 years resulting in serious problems for the construction and development works. NCZMA in its 25th meeting recommended amendment to IPZ notification 2011 for permitting sand mining from identified non-eco-sensitive areas. Due to delay in issue of notification, it was requested that a local committee under the Chief Secretary may be allowed to go ahead with sand allotment, as approved by Minister of State (IC) MoEF.
The demand for upgradation of Port Blair airport and starting International flights via Port Blair was also raised in the Standing Committee meeting. Port Blair was declared as International airport in 2007 and Ministry of Civil Aviation was requested to introduce International Flights in May 2012. The Admn informed that watch hours has been increased up to sunset and further proposed to be increased to 24 hours by June 2013. AAI had also discussed the issues during the visit of Member, Planning Commission on 24th July 2012 and the layout plan of Airport upgradation and expansion was finalised. The Amdn has requested for expeditious action for early upgradation of the Airport, and International flights re-routing to touch Port Blair, in line with the vision of world- class tourism in the Islands.
Reduction in air fare and increased connectivity also was on the agenda of the Admn. Route Dispersal Guidelines (RDG) was brought into improve connectivity in the remote regions such as North-East, J&K and Islands. At present 10% quota is earmarked under RDG for these sectors. Most of the airlines prefer to meet this criterion by touching Jammu and other short duration destination and avoid Port Blair.. In June 2011, Ministry of Civil Aviation was requested to keep A&N Islands in an exclusive category under Route Dispersal Guidelines.
Although, there was no dearth of agenda for the meeting, nothing seems to reach a logical conclusion with the current format, where debates and discussions takes more time than decision making.

No comments: