Chief ministers of three Indian states and the premier of British Columbia of Canada together cast their votes for greater power being handed over to the state governments and further decentralisation of governance at a panel discussion at the India Economic Summit, organised by the World Economic Forum in Mumbai.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithiviraj Chavan was joined by his counterpart from Kerala, Oommen Chandy, and Madhya Pradesh's Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Christy Clark, the Premier of Canadian province British Columbia set the stage when she said that in her country environmental clearances were largely the domain of the provinces. Clark is on a tour of India which follows her visit to China, trying to attract investment and business for her province.
Chandy pointed out how in Kerala hydro electric power projects supported across political parties had been stuck due to environmental concerns and Chouhan said states had been allowed to clear projects that were too small, covering only five hectares of land.
Both Chandy and Chouhan argued for greater say for the state governments in the planning process. Chouhan said: "It is not appropriate for the central government to create large central schemes and expect the states to make success stories out of that. Instead the states should also get their say in creating statewise plans where the centre provides fund support."Can India's growth tackle its ills?
Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan
The discussion was happening against the backdrop of a lull in the policy related action from the central government. There is a situation where the states are leading in policy changes and a case for states collaborating and sharing is emerging.
Prithviraj Chavan of Maharashtra said a lot was already being shared by the state governments among one another and that they were learning the best practices. Chavan mentioned how Maharashtra was trying to learn about water conservation through creation of new farm ponds in Gujarat, among other things.
He also said that along with powers being given to state governments there was a case for more powers being moved to the district authorities.
Chouhan added he had sent his officers to Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Gujarat to learn about their development projects.(Pictures: www.weforum.org)