7th Five Year Plan (Vol-2)
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16.1 The hill areas of the country, particularly the Himalayan and the Western Ghats regions which constitute about 21 per cent of the total area and contain 9 per cent of the total population of the country, support the basic life-giving natural resources but have fragile and sensitive eco-systems. The need to conserve natural resources and the environment, particularly to prevent damage to fragile and irreplaceable eco-systems, has been voiced in national policies and programmes for quite some time. The hill area development programme (HADP), in operation since the inception of the Fifth Five Year Plan, has been a major step in this regard. Simultaneously, it has also aimed at the goal of balanced regional development. During the Seventh Plan, the programme is expected to enter a crucial phase, particularly with reference to complementarity of interests of the hills and plains.

16.2 The hill areas fall broadly into two categories, namely: (i) those that are co-extensive with boundaries of State or Union Territories i.e., the hill State and UTs and (ii) those which form part or parts of a State, and which are designated hill areas.

Hill States/UTs

16.3 The areas falling in the first category are self contained politico-administrative units and have their own five-year plans to take care of their development needs. These are the States and UTs of the north-eastern region, Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim and Himachal Pradesh. They are being treated as special category States. A review of the plans of this category of States reveals that the main emphasis has been on the development of infrastructural facilities and social and community services during both the Fifth and the Sixth plan periods. This thrust was necessary to cover the backlog in infrastructural facilities. The production sectors and the sectors having a direct bearing on ecological preservations and restoration received less attention; these sectors will have to be given their due in the Seventh Plan period.

Designated Hill Areas

16.4 In the second category, the hill areas so far indentified form parts of: (a) the larger States of Assam, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, and (b) Western Ghats areas covering 163 talukas in the States of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Goa. Only these designated hill areas are covered under the Hill Area Development Programme (HADP) operative since 1974-75. The area, population and districts/talukas at present covered under the HADP are detailed in Table 16.1.

Table - 16.1: Area, population and districts/talukas constituting HADP

  Area ('000 sq. Kms) Population Lakhs) 1981 Coverage
Assam hill areas 15.2 6.31 Two districts: (Karbi Anglong and North Cachar). Eight districts: (Dehra-dun, Pauri Garhwal, Tehri Garhwal, Chamoli, Uttarkashi, Almora, Pithorgarh and Naini Tal). Three sub-divisions of Darjeeling district, viz., Sadar, Kalimpong and Kurseong.
Uttar Pradesh hill areas 51.1 48.4
West Bengal 2.4 5.1
Total 68.7 59.8  
(b) Western Ghats     Talukas
Maharashtra 58.4 101.2 62
Karnataka 44.3 66.7 40
Tamil Nadu 28.02 95.4 29
Kerala 28.1 123.8 29
Goa 1.7 1.3 3
Total 160.5 388.4 163

1. Projected.
2. Includes Nilgiris District covered under HADP, having an area of 2542 sq. Kms and a population of 6.29 lakh persons.

16.5 Apart from the normal flow of funds to the hill areas from the State Plans, in consideration of the regional imbalance and other special factors, Special Central Assistance (SCA) is being provided for the HADP. An allocation of Rs. 170 crores, inclusive Rs. 20 crores for Western Ghats Development Programme (WGDP), was made for the Fifth Plan. It was raised to Rs. 560 crores (including Rs. 75 crores for WGDP) in the Sixth Plan. The Seventh Plan allocation of SCA is Rs. 870 crores inclusive of Rs. 116.50 crores for WGDP. The pattern of assistance comprises 90 per cent grant and 10 per cent loan. In so far as category (a) of the designated hill areas (Paragraph 16.4) is concerned, the available SCA is allocated among the constituent States, giving equal weightage to area and population. In the case of areas in category (b), excluding the Nilgiris district (which is covered by the former category), the weightage for area is 75 per cent and for population 25 per cent. In order to ensure integration and linkages of schemes formulated under the SCA with other sources of funding like the State Plans, a Sub-plan approach has been adopted. But in the case of WGDP, a scheme-wise approach has been followed.


16.6 The programme was tilted in favour of beneficiary-. oriented scheme during the Fifth Plan period. In the Sixth Plan period, eco-development was emphasised, but the general tenor of the plans did not differ significantly from the normal State Plans. In other words, they have been characterised by the sectoral approach without adequate reference to eco-restoration, eco-preservation and eco-development. In the Seventh Plan, the emphasis will be on evolving plans which harmonise the three parameters, i.e., socio-economic growth, development of infrastructure and promotion of ecology. This implies consideration of ecological aspects at the time of formulation of policies, programmes and schemes.

16.7 Human and cattle pressure on the support areas and indiscriminate felling of trees for commercial purposes have led to rapid depletion of forest cover and reduction in the productivity of land, impairing the economic condition of the hill regions. Traditional agricultural practices like shifting cultivation have been responsible for exposure of the thin soil-cover of hill areas leading to accelerated erosion of both soil and forest cover. Monoculture forestry has been no substitute for nature's complex biotic processes. Such seemingly harmless activity as prolonged slope-grazing by cattle has exposed the largely earthen Shivaliks to erosion and brought them perilously close to disappearance. Other activities like construction of roads, dams, establishment of large and medium industries and of mining units have further aggravated the situation. With the depletion of forests in hill areas, increased flooding during the rainy season and extended periods.of drought have become a recurring feature in the plains, particularly of northern India. Availability of water in hill areas has also suffered due to lower water retention capacity caused by the loss of forest cover. This has led to the problems of sand-casting of fertile plains and silting of harbours, reservoirs and river beds, besides hardships for hill people. The major challenge, therefore, is to devise a solution to the problem that will avert ecological disaster while meeting the requirements of the growing population. The long-run needs both of the nation and of the community will be served only by maintaining an ecological equilibrium.

Delineation of Hill Areas

16.8 In the areas identified since the Fifth Plan, plans and programmes were introduced in accordance with the general policies of development. During the Sixth Plan period, the foundation for an appropriate policy for hill area development was laid. The areas mentioned in para 16.4 above will continue to be designated as hill areas and receive appropriate treatment during the Seventh Plan period. Fragile, vulnerable and sensitive areas within the hill areas will be identified and priorities fixed. However, having regard to the sub-continental dimensions and effects of their ecology, the Himalayan ranges will continue to receive special treatment.

Approach and Strategy

16.9 The guiding principles on which the hill area development programmes would be based are the promotion of a secure, basic life-support system, and judicious utilisation of land, mineral, water and biotic resources in a total perspective embracing complementarity of interests of both the hills and the plains. The whole strategy would centre around the active participation of the people, paricularly of women, in the fulfilment of their basic needs. The people's involvement can be ensured by ingraining the concept of "social fencing", which implies a voluntary and self-imposed discipline in managing society's resources at the local level. A better understanding of the resource base and eco-systems is an essential ingredient of development, planning and management. This necessitates creation of awareness of the vital importance of maintaining the eco-system against degradation among the hill people and particularly among the youth. It is increasingly evident that development efforts tend to produce wide-spread systemic effects (often deleterious) as a result of strong interactive linkage effects between a growing propulation fixed or limited resources, and a fragile eco-system and environment. The plans of hill States and hill areas have, therefore, to be informed by ecological and environmental considerations in addition to socio-economic and cultural considerations. In the formulation of policies, plans, programmes and schemes, eco-restoration, eco-preservation and eco-development must be given due consideration. Not only new projects, programmes and schemes but even on-going activities have to be subjected to critical review and to ecological norms, to forestall possible harmful, short-term and long-term consequences. Some guidelines for plans and programmes of socio-economic growth informed by ecological para-meters are set out in what follows.

Basic Needs of Hill People

16.10 The basic needs of hill communities will have to be kept in the forefront in the formulation of development programmes, specific attention being paid to relieve women and children of the interminable drudgery in the hills. Important basic needs like energy, fodder, water supply, education and health call for measures like the following:

(i) Alternative energy policy: To reduce the pressure on forests and the drudgery to which women are subjected, an alternative fuel policy should be evolved and implemented. It should have two aspects, firstly, providing an alternative source of energy such as electricity, including micro-hydels, kerosene coalcooking gas, at subsidised rates for household consumption to wean away people from fuel-wood and, secondly, use of devices such as fuel-efficient ovens and utilisation of sawmill and logging waste for briquetting.

(ii) Fuel and fodder: To achieve sustained supplies of fuel and fodder, denuded forest lands needs to be afforested with tree species which can provide both fuel and fodder. Pasture land development would have to recieve attention.

(iii) Drinking water supply: In view of the rugged terrain, high altitudes and remoteness, a four-fold strategy for drinking water supply will be adopted in hill areas: development of gravitational sources of water, hydraulic rams, storage-tanks and micro-hydel schemes. Provision of safe drinking water is most essential to minimise the incidence of water-borne disease. An attempt should be made to provide all problem villages with adequate and safe drinking water facilities in the Seventh Plan period.

(iv) Health: Emphasis will be laid on prophylactic steps in terms of environmental sanitation, protected water-supply and mass immunisation against TB, polio etc., and measures of protection against tropical diseases such as malaria, filaria and gastroenteritis as also against mal-nutrition, particularly vitamin and protein-deficiency and iodine-deficiency. Infrastructural facilities and the quality of services rendered by primary health institutions will be improved,. For the welfare of chidren it is necessary to strengthen and expand the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme in the hill areas. Pre- and post-maternity care for hill women, particularly those residing in remote areas will be provided. Maximum use should be made of indigenous medical skills; apart from their intrinsic value they have the merit of acceptability and accessibility. Research also needs to be systematically undertaken to develop these skills in their own right and as a supplement of the modern medical system. There is need to augment the training programmes for Dais.

(v) Education: Lack of skilled manpower is a major constraint in the development of hill areas. It is necessary to undertake manpower planning and to link education locally to the specific needs of the hill areas. The hill communities need to be involved in the management of schools locally so that these become culture centres of the villages. Single-teacher schools may not be ideal for these areas; in fact, the norms for location of schools should take into consideration the terrain.

People's Involvement

16.11 In all area programmes, particularly in watershed management, the active involvement of people, of their own local organisations and of voluntary agencies is crucial. Women especially have a pivotal role to play, since they are primarily responsible for agriculture, fuel and fodder collection, maintenance of livestock and other economic activity in the hills.

The Planning Process

16.12 Conceptually, the planning process may visualise three distinct zones of operation. Firstly, there are the relatively high and inaccessible altitudes and sparsely populated areas where natural geophysical processes are taking place. Here, non-interference by man in form of restraint in construction or installation of hydel or major multi-pupose irrigation dams, hard-topped roads, and industrial projects would greatly contribute to ecology preservation. But, since our understanding of the ecosystem in these altitudes is limited, a sound data-base has to be established for understanding the hydrology, climate, tectonics, seismology, flora and fauna, and the safe population carrying limits of such areas. Major projects whose total effects are unknown need to be critically reviewed. Even a small positive step along with non-interference would make a substantial contribution towards preservation of the high-altitude eco-systems. Secondly, in the more populated lower altitudes and regions growing population concentration (including tourist influx seasonally) industrial projects and road-building promoting increased access beyond safe carrying capacities have caused ecological strains and accelerated degradation, the ill-effects of which can be felt not only in the middle mountain ranges and foothills, but also in the plains below. It is here that the imbalance ensuing for strong interactive linkage effects between populations, resources, environment and development is markedly in evidence. The aggravation of ecological degradation and the adverse impact on the hill environment is clearly visible. The planning process in this region has to adopt an integrated view of the ecological, economic and sociolo-gical aspects. Thirdly, there are the seemingly unconnected plains below, which depend not only for their socio-economic but even physical existence on the nurturing capabilities of the hill ecosystems. Both for hill States like Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Sikkim, and hill areas like those in U.P., Assam and West Bengal, the interdependence of hills and plains should be clearly recognized to achieve a mutually beneficial reciprocity.

Catchment Area Development

16.13 Over-exploitation of the already depleted forest cover has resulted in the degradation of catchment areas of river systems, with adverse impact by way of depleting water resources, increased frequency of floods and transport of silt and debris into the river valleys and beds, reservoirs and plains. The treatment of catchment areas through integrated, scientific land-use planning has become an imperative need. In recognition of this, surveys and studies for obtaining a picture of the status of catchment areas of the Himalayan and Western Ghats river systems were commenced in 1983-84. On the basis of the status reports, integrated catchment area restoration progrmmes need to be formulated for implementation.

Unit of Planning

16.14 A development block, the lowest unit of planning of the plain areas, may not be suitable in a mountain eco-system on account of the relatively low population density, innumerable geographical barriers and communication hurdles. Further, perhaps more than other elements of nature, water is a dominant arbiter of man and environment in the hills. A geo-hydrological watershed would, hence, appear to be a better substitute for a development block as a unit of planning. A watershed may be distingished from the catchment area of a river system the latter, besides being in the higher altitudes, is generally of ampler dimensions. The planning treatment for a catchment area may be different from that for a watershed, but the implications of adoption of the two physiographic entities, i.e., catchment areas and watershed areas, have to be worked out in terms of geography, geomorphology, geo-physics, socio-economics, ecology, administration, etc. For planning and development purposes, relative to size, a watershed may generally be divided into three categories: (a) macro, (b) meso, and (c) micro. It bears reiteration that the planning process of micro, meso and macro watershed, catchment areas, and mountain ranges should be enmeshed and integrated.

Land Use

16.15 A proper land use pattern keeping the socioeco-nomic and ecological parameters in view should be worked out. While self-sufficiency in foodgrains production may be an objective, stress has to be laid on scientific land-use and spatial specialisation aiming at topose-quencing of crops with appropriate technology for raising productivity and production. Changes in land-use, particularly from annual crops to perennial crops, would necessitate extending and strengthening the scope of the communication facilities, marketing network and a strong public distribution system.

Shifting Cultivation

16.16 A viable solution to the problem of shifting cultivation, particularly in the north-east and some areas of the Western Ghats, has yet to be found. Even though special programmes under Central and State Plans have been launched, many of them have been unable to go beyond the pilot phase. The plans in this context will be on watershed basis in which the sectoral programmes like agriculture forestry, plantation, infrastructural facilities and social services etc., are integrated and coordinated to enable the Jhumias to take to settled cultivation. In areas where introduction of settled cultivation will take a long time, emphasis will be on improving the productivity of Jhum cultivation through better agronomic practices and improved varieties.


16.17 Strenuous efforts are required towards restoration of the degraded vegetation and forest cover constituting the life-support system. Forestry programmes will aim at fulfilling the national requirements of forest produce, imperatives of ecological balance and socio-psyco-economic needs of village communities. Revenue-earning can no longer be a major goal. Identification of ecologically sensitive and vulnerable areas will be taken up and comprehensive plans for their right treatment implemented. New techniques will be adopted in afforestation, aiming at reduction in per hectare cost and with employment potential. To conserve forest resources, use of substitutes for forest- base industrial raw-materials will be encouraged.

Horiticulture and Packaging Material

16.18 In the scientific land-use policy, tree culture and commercial plantation have to be recognized distinctly. The priority in tree-culture programme will be for meeting the requirements of local economy. The produce of certain food-yielding and fodder trees can be utilised locally. Dwarf varieties may be planted for the purpose. In so far as commercial plantations are concerned, the problem of bulky and perishable products is growing in magnitude. It will be desirable to select low-volume, low-weight edible fruits and nuts with long shelf-life. Connected with horticultural crops is the problem of packaging material. The use of various soft-woods for the purpose has been depleting natural forests rapidly. Use of substitute materials through proper pricing, fiscal and research measures will be considered. Fourthly, floriculture will be encouraged.

Animal Husbandry

16.19 Animal husbandry programmes need to be appraised keeping in view the stock of animals and availability and status of pastures and forests. Scientific rotational grazing on the basis of social fencing is essential. Suitable local breeds which can graze on the undulating terrains will be upgraded through natural or artificial insemination. Rearing of goats will be discouraged, but sheep-rearing, pig-rearing and poultry can be taken up. Stall-feeding habits will relieve pressure on pastures and forests. The programme will need: (a) scientific breeding approach, (b) strong protective and curative animal health cover, and (c) processing and marketing of the produce.


16.20 The hill areas are particularly suited to industries which require pollution-free atmosphere, cool climate, based on high-skills and high value addition, like electronics, watch-making, optical glass, collapsible furniture etc. Cottage industries like carpet manufacture and handlooms also are suitable activities. Such hill area industries should preferably be of a small-scale and decentralised nature, with high value to volume ratios. On account of long distances from markets and transport difficulties, large and medium industries may not generally be viable. However, tourism and trekking can be organised as an industry, with due regard, however, to nonexploitative use of local or scarce resources.

Transport and Communication

16.21 Communication facilities like the postal system, tele-communication, broadcasting, and television and means of transport like .airways, waterways and ropeways need to be further developed and strengthened in an integrated manner. However, the concept of uncontrolled road building in hill areas needs amendment: greater emphasis is needed for a network of bridle-paths, foot-bridges, and adequate feeder roads. Road-building technology should take adequate note of the environmental aspects. The policy of road development will be reviewed and a viable programme prepared for the hill areas.

Appropriate Technology

16.22 Evolution of appropriate technology, R and D and scientific inputs are necessary for harnessing natural resources on a decentralised basis. Available and new technologies will be modified or upgraded. Appropriate technology will call for low-cost and need-based innovations, suiting local conditions and skills for management of the hill resources.

Uniformity in Approach and Strategy for Hill Development

16.23 For the desingnated hill areas covered under HADP, a sub-Plan approach grounded in the integrations of various sectoral programmes has been adopted for the Himalayan region. But the WGDP areas continue to follow a schematic approach. It is desirable to follow, to the extent possible, the sub-Plan approach in WGDP also. Above all, it is essential that the basic principles of hill area planning are followed by all hill States. In other words the plans of hill States (as distinct from the desiganted hill areas) also should be informed by ecological and environmental considerations. A suitable mechanism within the consititutional framework should be devised to ensure that the approach and strategy evolved for the development of hill areas is uniformly followed in all categories of hill areas.

Approach and Strategy Specific to Western Gnats

16.24 The Western Ghats represent a distinct entity, on account of high pressure of population and consequent high rate of depletion of the natural resources endowment. The development programme of this region will bestow special attention on restoration of the run-down ecology. The development programmes to be taken up by the constituent states in the Western Ghats during the Seventh Plan should revolve round the central theme of eco-restoration and eco-promotion. The States will formulate a perspective plan keeping this goal in view.


16.25 References have been made earlier to the pressure of population in the hill areas and the consequent rapid depletion of natural resources. Though rising population is a problem in general, it has special significance for the hill areas, as their rate of population increase is above the national average. While this may be accounted for by natural growth and in-migration (and an added pressure due to tourist influx), the fact remains that the indigenous hill population has to bear the brunt of deterioration of resources locally. Thought needs to be devoted to searching for a solution to this problem.


16.26 The north eastern region comprises the five States of Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura and the two Union Territories, of Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram. The region accounts for 7.7 per cent of the country's total land area, and has a population of 26.6 million (1981 census), characterised by wide ethnic diversity. Seventy per cent of the area is hilly and ninety per cent of the people live in villages. The literacy rate in the region is above the all-India average of 36.2 per cent except for Arunachal Pradesh (20.1 per cent) and Meghalaya (33.2 per cent).

16.27 The region is endowed with considerable natural resources, e.g., soil water, forests, minerals and hydel potential. But the economy is primarily agricultural, commercial crops like jute and tea being predominant. The region is deficient in foodgrains. The bulk of the hilly area in the region continues to be under shifting cultivation. With the high rainfall in the region forests cover about 50 per cent of the total area. Among the mineral resources, oil (25.7 per cent of national recoverable reserves), gas (21.3 per cent of national recoverable reserves as on 1.1.1984), coal reserves (1.1 per cent of national reserves) and limestone reserves (4.6 per cent of national reserves as in 1977) are important.

16.28 The modern secondary sector in the region is in its preliminary stage, with only a few scattered industrial establishments. With a view to accelerating the pace of industrial development, the Government of India has declared the entire north eastern region as belonging to 'A' category, i.e., industrially backward area, which entitles it to Central investment subsidy at the maximum permissible rate. Transport subsidy for raw materials and end products is also available at 75 per cent and covers all modes of transport including rail movement from Siliguri. Efforts have been made to develop manpower potential under the Central, NEC and the State sectors to give impetus to industrialisation. Handloom weaving and handicrafts are the cultural heritage of the people of the north-eastern region; for development of these tiny sector industries, a North Eastern Handloom and Handicrafts Development Corporation (NEHHDC) has been set up, besides the existing State Corporations.

16.29 Inadequate infrastructural facilities e.g., transport and communication, have been a major constraint. The region is tenuously connected with the rest of the country by a narrow land strip in north Bengal. The terrain is difficult with the Himalayan ranges straddling the entire north and north-east, making transport and communications a problem. Among the various measures taken for improving the railways are extension of the broad-gauge line from New Bongaigaon upto Gauhati (completed), six new railway lines, augmentation of the capacity of the Lumding-Badarpur metergauge line and the second rail-cum-road bridge across the Brahmaputra at Jogighopa along with the broad-gauge railway line from Jogighopa to Gauhati. In the road sector, the improvement of six routes as national highways and a second road-bridge over the Brahmaputra near Tezpur are important, besides the roads taken up in the States and NEC Plans. Other modes of transportation are inland waterways, airways, ropeways etc., some of which are being improved. For development of communictions, the focus has been on the improvement of telecommunication and broadcasting, coverage of the region under TV and use of INSAT for strengthening the rural communication system.

16.30 In order to have an integrated development of the north-east, the NEC was created by an Act of Parliament in 1971. It is an advisory body and its schemes aim mainly at development of infrastructural facilities in the region, like power, transport and manpower. In the NEC Plan, power and transport together account for about 80 per cent of the total outlay. The importance that the Government attaches to the role of the Council will be clear from the fact that the approved outlay for NEC in the Seventh Plan has been raised to Rs. 675 croes from Rs. 90 crores in the Fifth Plan and Rs. 381 crores in the Sixth Plan. The Council has been instrumental in initiating major integrated development programmes relating to the area's natural resources and socioeconomic and ecological factors.

16.31 In view of the importance being attached to the speedier development of the north-eastern region a Committee of Ministers assisted by a Committee at official level was set up in 1980 to review the progress of the measures already initiated and also to suggest various fresh steps that might be necessary for the development of the region.

Seventh Plan Perspective

16.32 Keeping in view the regional needs and national objectives, the basic tasks of the region are: (!) attainment of self-sufficiency in food, (ii) viable solution to the problem of shifting cultivation, (iii) ecological and environmental protection, (iv) reduction in infrastructural bottlenecks, (v) development of suitable small, village and cottage industries and generation of productive employment and (vi) manpower development. Though the States and Union Territories of the region have certain common features, each has also its own distinctive characteristics. Their particular ethos will be kept in view while drawing up specific plans, projects and schemes.


16.33 Foodgrains production in the region increased from 2.9 million tonnes in 1979-80 to 3.9 million tonnes in 1983-84. The region is deficit in foodgrains production, and it has been importing 100,000 tonnes of foodgrains per month from other parts of the country. The estimated requirement of foodgrains by 1990 is 6.27 million tonnes as assessed by the Working Group of the development of the norh-eastern region. Transport bottlenecks and storage and marketing difficulties make import of foodgrains into the region a costly and difficult proposition. An additional production of about 2 million tonnes of food-grains will be required to make itself sufficient during the Seventh Plan period. Measures for raising agricultural productivity and increased agricultural production will be accorded high priority. Creation of assured irrigation and utilisation of irrigation facilities, particularly of minor projects will be an important means. Scientific land-use with promotion of subsidiary sources of income through livestock rearing, pisciculture, horticulture, plantations, afforestation, sericulture, etc., will be promoted. The stress will be on development programmes on an integrated watershed approach with people's participation. People's involvement alone will ensure acceptance and dissemination of the programmes as well as economy in expenditure on schemes and on administrative infrastructure.


16.34 With a total installed capacity of power estimated at 791 MW by the end of the Sixth Plan, the region is surplus in power at present. The Seventh Plan target is to create an additional capacity of 429 MW, raising the total to 1220 MW. The total number of villages electrified as on 31.3.1985 was 17,136; the rural electrification target for the Seventh Plan is an additional 13,076 villages.

Industry and Minerals

16.35 Paper projects: One paper project of 100 tonnes per day (tpd) at Tuli in Nagaland at an estimated cost of Rs. 84 crores in the Central sector was commissioned during the Sixth Plan. Two more projects of 300 tpd each at an estimated cost of Rs. 226 crores and Rs. 228 crores respectively are under construction, at Cachar and Now-gong in Assam. These are likely to be commissioned in 1986.

16.36 BRPL downsteams: Efforts are being made by the Government of Assam to make full use the products of the Bongaigaon Refinery and Petro Chemicals Ltd. (BRPL) through the establishmet as downstream industries: polyester film and filament yarn-producing units and spinning mills, handloom and powerloom complexes and viscose staple/fibre units. The BRPL complex is likely to have considerable region wide spread-effects.

16.37 Minerals: The main task in relation to mineral development will be (i) continuation of detailed exploration and establishing reserves of promising mineral deposits particularly of limestone, coal, ceramics and refractories raw-materials and base-metals and (ii) setting up of experimental pilot mining projects.

Village and Small Industries

16.38 Small-scale industries: The focus will be on development of entrepreneurship, upgradation of technology, better utilisation of resources, removal of infras-tructural constraints, creation of marketing facilities, etc., in the small-scale sector. For entrepreneurship development, besides training, motivation and job-orientation, a wide range of entrepreneurship development programme will be taken up on a package basis, covering adequate selection of projects, preparation of project reports, tie-up with financial institutions, marketing of products, etc.

16.39 Sericulture: The vast potential of sericulture needs to be exploited to its full extent. Steps will be taken to provide package services such as (i) increase in the area of plantations, (ii) organised supply of quality seeds, (iii) facilities and equipment for reeling and weaving, (iv) marketing facilities, (v) trained technical personnel to oversee implementation of the schemes and (vi) research and development.

16.40 Transport: Emphasis will be on an integrated system of rail, road, airways, inland waterways, ropeways, etc. For the road network, a master-plan integrating all types of roads for the whole region will be prepared.

Manpower Development

16.41 Schemes for an increase in the supply of skilled and semiskilled manpower will be continued under the plans of NEC and States/UTs of the region. Some highlights are: (i) Students of the region will be sponsored for various undergraduate, post-graduate and doctoral studies in agriculture, allied activities and engineering; (ii) in-service personnel will be sponsored for short-duration specialised courses including management development;(iii) the existing technical institutions will be expanded and strengthened and (iv) new technical institutions will be set up in the region.

Monitoring and Evaluation

16.42 With the magnitude of State and NEC Plans in the region having increased considerably and with the development process gaining momentum, it is essential that the monitoring system be put on a sound footing so that there is adequate feed back from the grassroots to the State and national levels on a regular basis. Correct policy prescriptions can be evolved through monitoring. Evaluation, aggregative and sectoral as well as concurrent and post-implementational, will provide valuable insights, to arrive at right policy formulations. Projectisation of plans, and programmes, besides being necessary in itself, will facilitate monitoring and evaluation.


Historical Background

16.43 The great Indian desert, or the Thar Desert, encompasses the western half of Rajasthan and the adjacent areas in Gujarat and Haryana. Besides this hot desert, a cold arid zone in the northern parts of the country extends over Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir and parts of Himachal Pradesh.

16.44 In the past, some sporadic attempts have been made to develop only the hot arid deserts, while cold arid areas have practically remained neglected uptil recently. Some of the former rulers of the Princely States situated in what is now Rajasthan did make attempts to find ad hocsolutions to the pressing problems, but these were confined to isolated pockets. There is no evidence of any organised and systematic attempt having been made before Independence to tackle the problems of the desert areas in a systematic or comprehensive way.

16.45 In 1951-52, the need to conserve and improve the resources of the desert region of Rajasthan was recognised and an ad hoc Committee of Experts was appointed by the Union Government to go into the matter. Accordingly, a Desert Afforestation Centre was set up at Jodhpur in pursuance of the recommendations of this Committee. Subsequently, the scope of work at this station was enlarged by the inclusion of soil conservation programmes, and it was renamed in 1957 the Desert Afforestation and Soil Conservation Station. The station was required to conduct research, basic as well as applied, in land use covering forestry, crop husbandry and grassland development so that the problem of wind erosion and the resulting increase in desertic conditions could be controlled.

16.46 About this time, an Arid Zone Project was started under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to initiate and intensify research on problems of arid zones in different parts of the world. Under this project, a UNESCO Adviser, an expert from Australia, was invited to render advice on the ways and means of identifying and overcoming the problems of desert areas in this country. The expert suggested a broad-based programme of research and surveys covering basic resources, fundamental problems of soil-water-plant-atomsphere relationships, control of pests, regulated grazing of pastures, development of animal husbandry and arable crop raising and tackling of socio-economic problems. In pursuance of these suggestions, the Desert Afforestation and Soil Conservation Station was further reorganised in 1959 as the Central Arid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI).

16.47 In 1960, the State Land Utilisation Committee appointed by the Government of Rajasthan made its recommendations on the development of desert and semi-desert areas of Rajasthan. Subsequently in 1964, the Government of India set up a working group under the Chairmanship of Shri M.K. Kidwai, which examined the problems of desert development and recommended a number of pilot projects for the improvement of selected desert areas. This Committee felt that ultimately it would probably be necessary to set up a Desert Development Board to keep a watch over the formulation and implementation of schemes forthe development of desertareas. In June 1966, a Desert Development Board was accordingly constituted with the Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, as its Chairman to ensure a more rapid development of the arid regions. Nominees of the States of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana and representatives of the Planning Commission and of the Ministries of Finance, Agriculture, Irrigation and Power, Health and Family Planning, Communications and Education and Social Welfare, and four non-officials were made members of the Board.

16.48 The Board was reconstituted in October 1971, with the Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture as its Chairman and the Secretary, Department of Agriculture as its Vice-Chairman. The Ministries of Health and Family Planning, Irrigation and Power, Communications, Education and Social Welfare were not represented on this Board as the programmes covered only agricultural development. The membership of the Board, however, included representatives of the Planning Commission, Ministry of Finance, Department of Agriculture and the State Governments of Rajasthan, Haryana and Gujarat. In addition, four non-official members including two Members of Parliament and two representatives of the local Panchayats were included.

16.49 On the basis of the recommendations of the Board, an integrated programme of pilot projects for desert development, involving a total outlay of Rs. 10 crores, was proposed for inclusion in the Fourth Five Year Plan. The programme covered items like pasture development, minor irrigation and soil conservation. As against this, a very limited programme, costing in all Rs. 2 crores, was actually provided in the Fourth Plan. The above programme was confined to four desert districts. The districts selected were Mohindergarh in Haryana, Banas-kantha in Gujarat and Barmer and Jaisalmer in Rajasthan.

16.50 In September, 1972, the Desert Development Board reviewed the existing programme and recommended the approach for the Fifth Five Year Plan. It was felt that most of the schemes like development of minor irrigation, soil conservation, afforestation, etc. had features in common with the State Agricultural development programme. Consequently, the Board felt that there was no particular advantage in taking up such activities as a part of the Central sector programmes. There were, however, some special problems which deserved to be taken up in the Central Sector. Accordingly, the Board recommended that, in the Fifth Plan, action be taken to concentrate on a programme of shelter belts and avenue plantation in the desert areas, as also pilot projects for the resettlement of nomads. Finally, the Board suggested taking up of special studies in regard to sand dunes, meteorological conditions, etc. These programmes were merged with the drought prone areas programme (DPAP) during the Fifth Plan.

16.51 The National Commission on Agriculture made a detailed review of the problems and needs of the arid areas and submitted an interim report on "Desert Development" in March, 1974. It stated: "The problems of the desert areas are different from those in the semi-arid and dry sub-humid regions and even the southern arid zone. In order to improve the conditions of the desert economy, a different set of measures are necessary. We have drawn attention to the urgent need to arrest the rapid deterioration of the desert area and have recommended a 15-year comprehensive and integrated programme for its improvements and economic development so that much of the hardship arising there out of drought and aridity can be mitigated permanently and lasting socio-economic improvements can be brought about in this underdeveloped region".

16.52 Based on the recommendations of the National Commission on Agriculture, the Desert Development Programme (DDP) was launched in 1977-78. The programme covered: (a) the hot arid desert areas comprising 11 districts of Rajasthan—Ganganagar, Bikaner, Churu, Jhunjhunu, Sikar, Nagaur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Barmer, Jalore and Pali; 4 districts of Haryana—Hissar, Bhiwani, Rohtak and Sirsa and 3 districts of Gujarat—Banaskantha, Mehsana and Kutch and (b) the cold arid desert in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir and Spiti subdivision of Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh.

Review of the Desert Development Programme (DDP)

16.53 At the commencement of the Sixth Plan, the coverage of DDP was reviewed in 1982 by a Task Force set up by the Ministry of Rural Development headed by Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, then Member, Planning Commission. The Task Force suggested continuance of the programme in all the existing areas except in Kutch district (Gujarat) and parts of Kargil district (Jammu and Kashmir). In Kutch district, the Programme was merged with another on-going programme, namely, the Drought Prone Areas Programme (DPAP) which has broadly similar objectives. In Kargil district, four out of five development blocks were recommended for exclusion, as these blocks have substantial rainfall, vegetation and irrigation. Extension of the Programme was suggested to cover the Pooh Subdivision of Kinnaur district in Himachal Pradesh. The programme during the Sixth Plan covered 126 blocks as against 132 blocks earlier. The coverage of the programme in different States/districts in the Sixth Plan is indicated in Annexure 16.1.

Criteria for selection

16.54 The areas covered under the Programme were initially identified by the National Commission on Agriculture in its Interim Report on Desert Development (March 1974). The Commission observed in its report that "the exact delineation of the arid areas demands a larger number of meteorological observations than are available at present. However, f;om the trend of variation of rainfall and temperature amongst the meteorological stations, the moisture index parameters and observable arid region characteristics, a resonable delineation, howsoever approximate, has been made". For the purpose of development, additional factors such as contiguity (geographical boundary), which would facilitate administration and execution of the programmes, were also taken into consideration.

Programme contents:

16.55 The following major activities have been taken up under this programme:

  1. Afforestation, with special emphasis on shelter belt plantation, grassland development and sand dune stabilisation;
  2. ground water development and utilisation;
  3. construction of water harvesting structures;
  4. rural electrification for energising tubewells and pump sets; and
  5. development of agriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry.

16.56 The Task Force on DPAP and DDP (Swaminathan 1982), while reviewing this programme, stated that its objective would be broadly similar to that of the Drought Prone Areas Programme. Following this, the emphasis will obviously be on the control of desertification and growing of fire-wood species. The contents of this programme are, therefore, as follows:

  1. Promoting a more productive dryland agriculture on the basis of soil-water-climate resources of the area;
  2. Development and productive use of water resources of the area;
  3. Soil and moisture conservation including promotion of proper land use practices;
  4. Afforestation including farm forestry; and
  5. Livestock development including development of pasture and fodder resources.

Revised scheme of funding

16.57 The programme was started as a Central Sector Scheme under which the entire burden of funding was borne by the Central Government. This pattern of assistance continued till 1978-79. From 1979-80 onwards, the cost has been shared equally between the Central Government and the State Government concerned.

16.58 The allocations of funds for the programme in the initial two years were broadly on an ad hoc basis, depending on the formulation of suitable schemes by the concerned state governments and their capacity to utilise the funds. From 1979-80 onwards funds for the prog-rame were allocated on the basis of Rs. 15 lakhs per block per year, with the Union and state government each contributing Rs. 7.5 lakhs. For the project in Spitisub-division of Lahaul and Spiti district, where only one block was covered under the programme, a minimum annual allocation of Rs. 50 lakhs (including the share of the state government) was made. The actual release of the funds to the different States was, however, regulated according to the availability of funds in the Central budget, the size of the approved programme and the progress of expenditure.

16.59 The Swaminathan Task Force had, inter-alia, suggested a modification in the basis of allocation of funds among the different States from the basis of blocks to the basis of area/activity of desertification. The earlier basis for allocation of funds of Rs. 15 lakhs per block for different districts did not take into account either the intensity of aridity or the extent of areas subject to desert conditions. While constituting blocks, State governments only aim at a certain minimum population coverage per block and while this coverage is modified by the consideration that the jurisdiction of the block should not be unwieldy, a minimum population coverage has always been ensured. In the desert areas, naturally, such an approach results in a smaller number of blocks within a large geographical area. The greater the intensity of desert conditions, the less is the population density and hence the smaller the number of blocks, resulting thereby in smallerallocationforthe district. For instance, Jaisalmer in Rajasthan with a geographical area equivalent to that of Kerala State has only three blocks, while the desertic conditions are the acutest in the country. This district was allocated Rs. 45 lakhs per year (including the share of the State government) upto 1981-82, even though a much higher order of investment would have been justified. Accordingly, from 1982-83 the allocations of funds for the DDP programmes have not been related to the number of blocks in the district but to the severity of desert conditions and the extent of the area subject to these conditions. Measurement of desert conditions is, however, not easy. Funds for the more hot arid areas have been allocated on the basis of Rs. 10 lakhs per annum per 1,000 sq. kms. of geographical area, subject to a ceiling of Rs. 2 crores per annum per district. The ceiling was fixed because it was felt that it would be difficult to spend a larger amount productively in these areas for some years till the organisation to implement the programme was suitably strengthened. Five districts, namely, Ganganagar district in Rajasthan and Rothak, Bhiwani, Hissarand Sirsa districts in Haryana were considered less arid areas by the Swaminathan Task Force, on the basis of rainfall and irrigation spread in these districts. An allocation of Rs. 50 lakhs per annum (to be shared equally between the Union and the State government) had been recommended for these areas. The Government had later on raised this amount to Rs. 60 lakhs, except for Sirsa, which is a small district and for which 9 fixed amount of Rs. 50 lakhs per annum was allocated.

16.60 For the cold desert areas, annual allocations of Rs. 100 lakhs for Leh (including Zanskar block of Kargil district of Jammu and Kashmir) and Rs. 50 lakhs each of Spiti sub-division of Lahaul and Spiti District and Pooh sub-division of Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh, were made.

16.61 A provision of Rs. 5 lakhs per block was made during 1982-83 for the completion of on-going, but incomplete schemes under the desert development programmes in the 7 blocks which were excluded from the coverage of DDP as per recommendation of the Task Force. Based on these funding norms, the provision for the programme during the Sixth Plan, including the 50 per cent matching shares of the five state governments was Rs. 100 crores.

Review of performance

16.62. During the Sixth Plan (1980-85), two major programmes in area development in the Centrally sponsored sector (on equal sharing basis between States and the Central Government) have been in operation, i.e., the Drought Prone Area Programme (DPAP) and the Desert Development Programme (DDP). These programmes have, generally, similar approaches and objectives of development. The DPAP focuses on the development of drought prone areas and the DDP on the desert regions of the country. For both, the nodal organisation at the Central level is the Department of Rural Development, which monitors the progress of implementation of the programmes and releases Central funds to the concerned States in implementing the respective programmes. A review of the performance of DDP follows:

16.63 (i) Coverage: The Programme for both hot and cold deserts covered 126 blocks in 21 districts of 5 States. Recently, an Inter-Departmental Committee (1984) has made certain recommendations for inclusion/reinclusion of some more areas and as a result of that, it is planned to extend the coverage to 131 blocks during the Seventh Plan by including one more block—Dhanera of Gujarat under hot desert—and four more blocks of Kargil district in Jammu and Kashmir under cold desert (as per annexure 16.1).

16.64 (ii) Plan provision: A provision of Rs. 100 crores (total by the Central and the States) was made in the Sixth Plan for the programme. Annexure 16.2 gives details relating to State-wise Plan allocations, outlays approved and expenditure incurred upto November—December 1984, along with the corresponding release of Central funds and the percentage utilisation of the funds by each State. It will be seen that, on an average, 76 per cent of the approved outlays and 70 per cent of the Plan allocations have been reported as utilised during this period. After 1982-83, when the basis of funding norms was changed, the resource deficit States like Rajasthan have not been able to utilise the full allocation due to the inability of the State Government to provide for the matching outlays, as will be seen in Table 16.2.

TABLE 16.2 Expenditure during the Sixth Plan for Desert Development Programme

Year Plan allocations Expenditure
All India Rajasthan All India Rajasthan
1980-81 16.00 9.94 14.50 9.97
1981-82 16.00 9.94 15.47 8.76
1982-83 21.18 15.71 12.41 6.89
1983-84 20.83 15.71 15.00 9.55
1984-85 20.84 15.71 7.98* 5.75
TOTAL 94.85 67.01 65.36 40.92

(70.65% of all India) (62.60% of all India); *Upto September 1984.

16.65 (iii) Physical achievements: No physical targets were fixed for various components of developmental activities under DDP in the Sixth Plan. The physical achievement has been as follows:

TABLE 16.3: Physical Achievements of Desert Development Programme 1980—85

1. Afforestation  
(i) Plantation •OOO ha 53.87
(ii) Avenue and Shelter belts plantations •OOO km. 32.61
(iii) Sand dune stabilisation •OOO ha. 12.09
2. Irrigation potential created " " 7.88
3. Area treated under soil conservation ,, „ 2.55
4. No. of cross bred lambs born/distributed 6411
5. No. of milk collection centres set up 721
6. No. of Veterinary dispensaries set up 161
7. Employment generated '000 mandays 8799

Strategy for the Seventh Plan

16.66 The sub-group on Area Development and Land Reforms of the Seventh Plan working group on Rural Development has recommended a higher allocation of funds for the hot arid areas; it has recommended that the existing rate of Rs. 10 lakhs should be raised to Rs. 15 lakhs per 1000 sq. kms. to start with and gradually to Rs. 25 lakhs per 1000 sq. kms. in the terminal year of the Plan (1989-90) with corresponding ceilings of Rs. 4 crores per district per annum to begin with and Rs. 6 crores in the last year.

16.67 For the cold arid areas, a total allocation of Rs. 25 crores has been recommended for the Seventh Plan. The scale of funding for the cold arid areas from 1985-86, would be Rs. 75 to 175 lakhs per annum per district, as against Rs. 50 lakhs at present. This step-up in the allocation is in line with the step-up for the hot arid areas.

16.68 The Working Group has also recommended that 1/3rd of the total allocation would be earmarked for 'core' activities to be entirely financed by the Central Government while the allocation for the remaining activities would be shared equally between the Centre and the State Governments. The identification of 'core' items under DDP will be difficult, as these will vary from region to region. It is not, therefore, proposed to accept this recommendation.

16.69 The Working Group has further recommended special financing dispensation in respect of sand dune stabilisation and shelter belt plantations, since these two items are considered crucial to arresting further desertification. The schemes under this programme have to be taken up for large stretches of area without any gap in between. To boost up animal husbandry in these areas, it is also essential to develop the pastures for the livestock. The accepted strategy for drought proofing has been to develop the area on watershed basis and each such mini-watershed should serve as the basic unit for planning and further development. All the schemes relating to planning and development of such watersheds on scientific basis should have special financing dispensation to achieve tangible results.

16.70 In para 38 of the Approach to the Seventh Five Year Plan it has been stated that "in the case of Desert Development Programme the need to give greater thrust to it, if necessary, by remodelling it on the lines of other special area programmes like the Hill Area and Tribal Area Programmes will have to be examined". To comply with this, not only will the allocations for this programme have to be stepped up to the level worked out on the revised norms recommended by the Working Group but also the entire funds needed will have to be provided by the Central Government.

16.71 Briefly, the financial implications of DDP during the Seventh Plan (1985-90) is as follows:—

TABLE 16.4: Financial outlay for DDP in Seventh Plan
(Rs. lakhs)

1985-86 3674.10
186-87 4286.45
1987-88 4898.80
1988-89 5511.15
1989-90 6123.50
TOTAL 24494.00

In the Seventh Plan, the entire amount will be provided to States by modifying and converting the existing 50 per cent matching Centrally Sponsored Scheme into a 100 per cent Central Scheme.

Border Areas Development Programme

16.72 A new programme for the development of border areas is proposed to be taken up in the Seventh Plan. An amount of Rs. 200 crores has been provided as part of the Special Areas Development Programme for this programme. The development of border areas has taken on added sensitivity and importance due to developments in the recent past. In order that focussed attention is paid to the balanced development of sensitive border areas, it has been decided to initiation a programme for the development such border areas, in the form of a 100 per cent Centrally-funded programme. The programme will be administered under the aegis of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

ANNEXURE—16.1 Desert Development Programme

List of Districts Covered under the Desert Development Programme (OOP)
State District No. of Area ('000 sq.
    Blocks kms)
1 2 3 4
1.Rajasthan 1. Jaisalmer 3 38.4
  2. Jodhpur 9 22.8
  3. Nagaur 11 17.7
  4. Pali 10 12.4
  5. Barmer 8 28.4
  6. Jalore 7 10.6
  7.Bikaner 4 27.2
  8. Churu 7 16.8
  9. Jhunjhunu 8 5.9
  10. Sikar 8 7.7
  11. Sri Ganaganagar 9 20.6
Sub-total (Rajasthan) 84 208.5 89%
2. Gujarat 1. Banskantha 6 7.92
2. Mehsana 2 1.92
Sub-Total (Gujarat) 8 9.84 4%
plus (1)
3. Haryana 1. Sirsa 4 4.1
2. Hissar 10 6.6
  3. Bhiwani 7 5.9
  4. Rohtak 5 4.0
Sub/total (Haryana) 26 20.6 7%
4.Himachal Pradesh 1. Lahaul and Spiti 1 n.a.
2. Kinnaur 1 n.a.
5. Jammu and Kashmir 1. Leh 5 n.a.
2. Kargil 1 n.a.
plus (4)
TOTAL 21 126(131)

(Figures in bracket show the number of blocks covered during the Seventh Plan); Total Area: (i) Hot Desert 240 thousand sq. km. or 2.4 lakh sq. km.; (ii) Cold Desert: 107.83 thousand sq. km. or 1.08 lakh sq. km. (part occupied illegally by Pakistani and  China).

ANNEXURE—16.2 Desert Development Programme (OOP)—State-wise Physical Coverage,
Outlays and Expenditure during Sith Plan
(Rs. in lakhs)

State No. covered Districts Books Plan allocations Outlays approved by D/RD (Central and States and left over balance) Expenditure incurred (State + Centre) upto Nov., Dec. 1984 Central funds relased (upto Dec. '84) % Out utilisation
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
1. Gujarat 2 8 522.52 707.70 517.89 240.92 73.2
2. Haryana 4 26 1305.24 1457.64 1163.25 566.86 79.8
3.Himachal Pradesh 2 2 400.00 490.00 286.53 168.31 78.2
4. Jammu and Kashmir 2 6 556.64 553.35 432.69 168.31 78.2
5.Rajasthan 11 84 6700.80 5273.14 4090.09 2394.04 77.6
TOTAL (DDP): 21 126 9485.20 8482.52 6490.45 3542.60 76.5
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