Will strengthen rural bodies first, industrialisation later: Jharkhand CM (Interview)

By Nityanand Shukla, IANS
Wednesday, December 22, 2010

RANCHI - Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda, who had in his earlier stint signed a slew of agreements with private companies to industrialise the state, now says his government will first focus on empowering rural bodies as people have to be involved in the development process.

Munda also promised to crack down on corruption in the state, which has become notorious for scams.

“The state government will focus on industrialisation after strengthening the rural bodies,” Munda, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief minister who Tuesday completed 100 days in office, told IANS in an interview at his office.

“After the panchayat polls, our agenda is to strengthen rural bodies. Once the rural bodies are empowered, we will focus on industrialisation,” he added.

Panchayat polls are on for the first time since Jharkhand was carved out of Bihar in 2000.

The Munda government had signed more than Rs.300,000 crore worth of MoUs between 2003 and 2006 with more than 70 companies involved in steel, power and other sectors.

Major steel players like Arcelor Mittal, Jindal Steel and Tata Steel could not translate their steel projects into a reality due to problems like land acquisition and not getting mining leases.

Considering the sentiments of people regarding displacement, Munda now seems to be treading cautiously on industrialisation.

“There is a need to win over people by improving the delivery system. We want to associate people in the development of the state and any industrialisation could only be done with the support of the people,” Munda said.

Munda preferred not to answer questions on key issues like the Maoist insurgency to avoid confrontation with BJP’s alliance partner Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM).

The views of the BJP and the JMM on the Maoist issue are different. The JMM also has reservations regarding industrialisation at the cost of displacement.

“We will act one by one. I can assure that our government will not tolerate corruption at any level. We are reviewing each department and setting priorities. Our government will streamline every department and every sector in the coming days,” the chief minister said.

He said action was taken against more than 100 government officials in his 100 days of governance.

“Tainted engineers, Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers and other officials have either been suspended or been listed for prosecution by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and vigilance,” he said.

Asked about the state government’s move to curb illegal mining, he said: “We will act tough on illegal mining and adopt appropriate measures to stop it. We will constitute a Special Task Force (STF) to curb it.”

When his attention was drawn to an intelligence report that officials were involved in illegal mining, Munda said: “If any official is found involved in or promoting illegal mining, the state government will not hesitate in terminating his/her services.”

According to intelligence sources, the officials responsible for keeping a tab on mining resources are involved in illegal mining and smuggling. Every year, Jharkhand loses more than Rs.200-Rs.300 crore in revenue due to smuggling and illegal mining.

Asked about planned improvements in the power sector, Munda said: “We have reviewed the power situation. We are releasing Rs.1,400 crore to improve transmission lines, keeping in mind the requirement for the next 30 years.”

“We have set a target to generate 12,000 MW of power in the next three years in partnership with the private sector,” he said.

The Jharkhand government is also planning to set up power plants with Public-Private Partnership.

The chief minister said he would provide transparent governance in the state.

“Transparent governance is on top of our agenda. We have started an e-procurement system under which online tender system will be started very soon. We will use biometric smart card technology to help the people of the state,” he said.

(Nityanand Shukla can be contacted at nityanand.s@ians.in)

Filed under: Economy

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