Plan budget for higher education may be halved
@ Jul 28, 2010
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Hemali Chhapia | TNN

24 July, 2010.

MUMBAI: Several ambitious projects launched by the UPA government under the 11th Five Year Plan may get delayed or axed as large spending cuts are likely to come into force. Thanks to the fact that the economy did not grow at the expected rate of over 9%, most ministries, barring two or three, are gearing up to shelve some of their projects.

For instance, the Planning Commission, which conducted a review of the 11th Five Year Plan (2007-2012), is likely to slash budgetary allocations for higher and technical education by nearly half the original amount.

This will have to be approved by the National Development Council, which is meeting on Saturday to discuss the mid-term appraisal of the 11th Plan.

A source in the Planning Commission said, "The decision to cut funds was taken because the money that was allotted for the first three years of the plan period itself has not been spent. Despite making ambitious announcements, most schemes have not taken off."

The fourth year of the 11th Plan has just begun. Of the Rs 84,000 crore allotted for higher and technical education in the plan, the ministry has not even spent Rs 30,000 crore. "The infrastructural development of many of the new Indian Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institutes of Management has not taken off," said an official in the Union human resource development ministry.

That exactly is the point the Commission is emphasising and why it is planning to cut funding. The mid-term review of the 11th Plan revealed that most projects had not kept up with the dates. Funds have been grossly underutilized.

Already, the Union finance ministry has pushed back setting up of 20 new Indian Institutes of Information Technology to the 12th Plan. Heads in the just set-up Central universities say recruitments have been stalled too. "Spending under school education has had a better track record; that will not be hacked much," said a source in the Commission.

Justifying the cutbacks, a Commission member explained, "Of course, one must also keep in mind the fact that the aggregate gross budgetary support was based on the assumption that India would grow at an average annual rate of 9%. But that was not the case." By the time the plan document for the 11th Plan was released in 2008, the global slowdown had hit India and the annual growth fell to 6%, throwing most projections off. Now, the Planning Commission estimates that the India's average growth in the 11th Plan would stand at 7.7 to 7.8%.


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