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Agriculture and Irrigation

2.74 Agriculture provides the livelihood of the largest number of our people and robust growth in this sector is the best guarantee of achieving a broad based growth of income levels and employment especially in rural areas. Our development strategy must focus special attention on this sector which requires a unique combination of private effort and public support. Agriculture has not benefited as much as it should have from policies of economic liberalisation because agriculture continues to suffer from too many restrictions and impediments which prevent farmers from marketing their produce at attractive prices. The phased reduction in the high levels of protection given to industry and the opening up of export market for agricultural products will help to shift the terms of trade in favour of agriculture and this should help to raise rural incomes. But broad based agricultural development also requires substantial investments in economic infrastructure especially irrigation, rural roads and creation of organised markets. These are all areas where the State must play a lead role.

2.75 During 1997-98, the unfavourable weather marked a decline in the agricultural production. Foodgrains production declined to 192.4 million tonnes from 199.4 million tonnes achieved in 1996-97. Production of oilseeds, cotton and sugarcane also declined. For doubling food production and making India hunger free in next ten years a Special Action Plan has been prepared. The Plan aims to ensure adequate availability of basic food items. For increasing food output and making India hunger free, a regionally differentiated strategy based on Agro- climatic Regional Planning which takes into account agronomic, climatic and resource availability is being adopted to realise the full potential of growth in every region. For 1998-99 the foodgrain production target has been fixed at 210 million tonnes.

2.76 To achieve the production targets of various crops schemes, like Integrated Cereal Development Programme in Rice/Wheat. Coarse Cereals based cropping system's Areas (ICDP- Rice, ICDP-Wheat, ICDP-Coarse Cereals), Oilseed Production Programme (OPP), National Pulses Development Programme (NPDP) are being implemented. New Technology Mission on Cotton is being launched to boost cotton production. The Special Jute Development Programme (SJDP), and Sustainable Development of Sugarcane Based Cropping System (SABACS) are also being implemented.

2.77 Livestock Farming plays an important role in socio- economic development of the rural community by way of generating employment, and supplementing family income opportunities of the low income groups. During 1996-97 about 77500 Dairy Cooperative Societies have been organised in 170 milkshed areas involving 98.8 lakh farmer members. The average milk procurement during 1997-98 was 128.9 lakh kg/day, 3% higher than the last year. About 113.3 lakh litres/day of milk was marketed reflecting a growth of 5 per cent.

2.78 Fish production has been continuously increasing in the country and has reached 53.9 lakh tonnes during 1997-98. The target for 1998-99 has been fixed at 55.9 lakh tonnes. Some of the Schemes/Programmes for enhancing productivity of fish being implemented are : (i) Research and Development Programmes for development quality fish/shrimp, (ii) Strengthening of shorebased facilities such as fishery harbours, landing centres, etc. with cold storage, ice plants, fish processing facilities and marketing infrastructure, (iii) Measures to conserve fishery resources of the coastal waters etc.

2.79 Irrigation is a vital input for agricultural production to keep pace with the ever increasing food requirement in our country. The creation of irrigation potential has increased from 22.6 million hectares in the pre-independence period to about 89.56 million hectares at the end of the Eighth Plan. This has greatly contributed to increase in foodgrains production from 51 million tonnes in 1950-51 to 198 million tonnes in 1996-97, indicating a growth of around 3 per cent during this period. About 60 per cent of foodgrains production has come from irrigated areas which constitute about 1/3rd of the total cultivated area and the remaining production has come from rain-fed areas. Since the net sown area between 1970-71 and 1993-94 has remained virtually unchanged, increase in production is attributed to increase in yields through increase in cropping intensity and utilisation of better inputs. The increase in irrigation intensity has contributed to the growth in overall cropping intensity which increased from 111.07 per cent in 1950-51 to 131.19 per cent in 1993-94. The current economic problems of the irrigation sector will, thus, be a central element In future strategy for agricultural development.

2.80 The target for creation of irrigation potential and its utilisation during the Ninth Five Year Plan through major, medium and minor irrigation schemes is laced at 17.05 million hectares and 13.63 million hectares respectively. During the Annual Plan, 1998-99, special emphasis is being given to optimise the returns from investments already made through time-bound completion of on-going major and medium projects particularly those started during pre-Fifth and Fifth Plan periods, restoration and modernisation of old existing irrigation systems executed during the pre-independence period and 25 years ago so as to improve water use efficiency and promotion of participatory irrigation management by user-farmers. Also, greater emphasis is to be laid on sustainability of irrigation system, both financially and physically. In this context, on-going Centrally Sponsored Command Area Development Programme has been broadbased, covering some more aspects of land-water use. Private sector participation in water development sector is one of the thrust areas of the Ninth Plan strategy.

2.81 During the Ninth Plan, the on-going centrally sponsored Command Area Development Programme (CADP) has expanded its scope including correction of system deficiencies, rehabilitation and modernisation of irrigation system above the Government outlet, provision and linking/management of collector, intermediate and main drainage system below field drains, encouraging farmers’ participation and inclusion of minor irrigation projects or a cluster of projects with Culturable Command Area (CCA) between 500-2000 hectares etc.

2.82 In order to accelerate the participation of farmers in the management of irrigation system, a number of initiatives have already been taken. These include creating awareness among farmers, officials of State Irrigation Department and NGOs by holding national, State and project level conferences with the participation of farmers, NGOs and officials, training of farmers and officials, preparation of manuals in local languages for implementation of Participatory Irrigation Management (PIM) and strengthening implementation mechanism including engagement of consultants to suggest changes in Irrigation Acts to facilitate farmers participation.

Industry and Infrastructure

2.83 With the announcement of new Industry Policy in 1991, a number of policy initiatives were undertaken during the Eighth Plan which continued during 1998-99. An Advisory Council on Trade and Industry to the Prime Minister has been set up for deliberating on critical policy issues put forward by industry leaders for accelerating industrial growth. Keeping in view the constraints on public investment in meeting the increasing demand for quality infrastructure, measures were taken to encourage greater private participation In the provision of infrastructure facilities. A series of tax incentives and other concessions were announced and regulations and procedures were simplified to facilitate investment in this sector. Further, to accelerate the pace of industrial development and to provide basic infrastructure support, the Investment Promotion and Infrastructure Development (IP and ID) Cell was also constituted with effect from November 1996. The Cell had operationalised the facilitation window for effective interaction with the prospective investors.

2.84 The number of industries requiring industrial licence was further reduced from nine at the end of the Eighth Plan. The industries de-licensed were Coal and Lignite; Petroleum and its distillation products and Sugar. The industries that now require license are only those governed by considerations of safety, security or environmental requirements, and not on account of capacity regulation, which was till now the prime guiding objective for licensing. Further, Coal, Lignite and Mineral oils were deleted from the list of industries reserved for public sector.

2.85 In order to suggest modalities of disinvestment of PSEs, Disinvestment Commission was constituted in August 1996. The Government had referred 43 PSEs to the Commission up to March 31, 1998. The Commission has since submitted 8 reports covering all the 43 PSEs. The Commission has recommended varying levels of disinvestment in some of the PSEs and strategic sale/trade sale/closure and sale of assets in some of these PSEs. The Commission has also made some general recommendations relating to corporate governance of PSEs, professionalisation of management, setting up of disinvestment fund, granting greater autonomy to PSEs and restructuring of PSEs, etc. The Government has decided to appoint global advisers, which will be selected through a process of competitive selection, to work out the details and modalities of disinvestment of Government equity in public enterprise.

2.86 Industrial production registered a growth of 6.6 per cent in 1997-98 as against 5.5 per cent in 1996-97 as indicated in Annexure 2.6. The improvement in 1997-98 was due to better performance of mining and electricity generation, which recorded higher growth rates of 5.6 per cent and 6.9 per cent as compared to -1.9 per cent and 3.9 per cent respectively in 1996-97. Higher growth in mining could be attributed to improved performance of crude oil (2.9 per cent in 1997-98 compared to -6.5 per cent in 1996-97) and that of electricity generation on account of improved performance in hydel power generation (8.2 per cent in 1997-98 compared to -5.4 per cent In 1996-97). The growth in manufacturing sector in 1997-98 at 6.6 per cent remained almost at the level as that in the previous year. The first nine months of 1998-99 (April-December) recorded a growth of 3.5 per cent over the corresponding period in 1997-98 in which mining and quarrying activities witnessed a negative growth of 1.1 per cent. The growth in manufacturing and electricity sectors decelerated by 3.7 and 6.6 per cent respectively as compared to the corresponding period in the preceding year.

2.87 The slowdown in industrial growth may be attributed primarily to the slackening aggregate demand. Falling export growth due to an overall slump in world trade compounded by an erosion in competitive advantage of Indian exports on account of steep depreciation in East Asian currencies; decline in rural demand owing to low agricultural output in 1997-98; price competition from imports in certain key industries and slow takeoff of actual investment in infrastructure projects are same of the important factors which contributed to the slow down in industrial growth. A few supply-side factors which have also affected the industrial production are: relatively low new investment by the corporate sector due to surge in capacity in mid-1990s and the concomitant inventory buildup; drying up of sources of funds due to continued sluggishness in capital markets (primary and secondary) and infrastructure bottlenecks.

2.88 An analysis of the manufacturing sector at two digit level for the period April - December 1998 indicates that the slackness in the activities was wide spread among the Industry groups. Out of the seventeen groups (with a weight of 79.36 per cent in total IIP), the rate of growth was either low or negative in nine categories with a combined weight of 48.11 per cent. Four Groups with a combined weight of 23.04 per cent experienced deceleration in growth rates. Among them the notable ones were nonmetallic mineral products, wool, silk and man-made fibre textiles. Five manufacturing groups viz., Jute and other vegetable fibre textiles, cotton textiles, textile products, machinery and equipment other than transport equipment and basic metal and alloy industries witnessed a negative growth. Seven groups with a weight of 27.96 per cent, however, displayed positive growth, significant among which, were transport equipment and parts, metal products and parts and other manufacturing industries, all of which, recorded a growth of above ten per cent over the previous year (Annexure 2.6).

2.89 Production analysis of the seven important infrastructure industries shows that during 1997-98, only two industries viz., coal and refinery crude throughput could achieve their target of production. In the rest five industries, the performance of fertilizer industry was even below 90 per cent of its target. In the first nine months of the year 1998-99(April-December) output of all the seven infrastructure industries remained below their target. The achievement ranged between 89 to 97 per cent. Yearwise performance of infrastructure industries is shown in Annexure 2.7.

2.90 In power sector a capacity addition of 40245 MW is envisaged during the Ninth Plan period with 11909 MW in Central Sector, 10748 MW in the state sector and the balance 17588 MW in the private sector. The target for capacity addition during 1998-99 is 3299.30 MW as against actual addition of 3226.50 MW in the preceding year. More than 50 per cent capacity targeted for the year 1998-99 is expected to be set up by the private sector.

2.91 The total generation envisaged in utilities for 1998-99 is 450 BKwh which would register a growth of about seven per cent over the preceding year. An additional energy of 1.5 BKwh is also expected to become available from the Chukha Hydel Power Project in Bhutan. The overall Plant Load Factor of thermal power stations for the year 1998-99 is envisaged to go upto 65.7 per cent from 64.7 per cent in 1997-98.

2.92 The policy for private sector participation in power was announced in October, 1991 in order to bring in additionality of resources for capacity addition programme. A number of incentives have been provided for private investment in power sector. The Indian Electricity Act, 1910 and the Electricity (Supply) Act, 1948 have been amended to bring about a new legal and financial environment for private enterprises in the electricity sector. With the addition of 1217.5 MW during 1997-98 the total capacity additions in private sector by March 1998 works out to 2647.5 MW.

2.93 Components of village electrification and pump sets energisation forming part of the Rural Electrification are the ongoing programmes under the state sector. For the year 1997-98 a target to electrify 3000 villages and energise 2.40 lakh pumpsets was set against which the achievements were - electrification of 3156 villages and energisation of 2.60 lakh pumpsets. The cumulative achievements under rural electrification programme as of March 1998 consist of electrification of around 5.02 lakh villages (85.5 per cent of the total villages) against total estimated potential of 145 lakh. Under the 'Kutir Jyoti Programme' for which the Government provides grant-in-aid to REC to extend single point light connections to the poor rural households below the poverty line including Harijans and Adivasis the cumulative achievement as on September 1998 was 31.69 lakh connections. The programme for 1998-99 envisages to electrify 2000 villages, energise 2.50 lakh pumpsets, release 4.45 lakh Kutir Jyoti connections and other activities under rural electrification.

2.94 Energy conservation programme is implemented as a part of the total power sector programme. In order to make this programme effective, Ministry of Power has brought out a draft energy conservation Bill with suitable legislative measures. The bill is yet to get the approval of Parliament for enacting the necessary energy conservation law.

2.95 Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources has adopted a strategy for promoting renewable energy sources by gradually shifting largely R and D and subsidy based demonstration programmes to market oriented programmes. The renewable energy programmes range from the traditional low technology improved chulhas and biogas to the most modern high technology hydrogen energy, fuel cells, electrical vehicles and ocean energy programmes. The wind energy, small hydro power, biomass energy, solar photovoltaic and solar thermal energy programmes are implemented to augment power generation through renewable energy sources. The thrust has been on budgetary support for social and rural oriented programmes and market orientation and commercialisation of viable technologies. This approach includes the increased private participation in the field of renewable energy.

2.96 Under the National Project of Biogas Development (NPBD), 1.75 lakh family size biogas plants had been set up. During 1997-98 against the target of 30 lakh chulhas, 29.30 lakh chulhas have been achieved. Under the biomass programme the Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources (MNES) continued the activities of development of quick growing species, biomass gasification, biomass briquetting and other elements of the programme. Under biomass gasifier system an equivalent capacity of 5.67 KW were installed during 1997-98.

2.97 Under power generation programmes through renewable energy sources a total 70 MW of wind power capacity and 11.38 MW of small hydro capacity under the small hydro development programme were set up during 1997-98. The programmes of power generation from industrial and urban waste, co-generation in sugar mills, biomass power, solar power etc. are being pursued with increased activities in the respective sectors.

2.98 Demand for coal during the Ninth Plan is projected to grow at the rate of 6.91 per cent. As against the target of 323.38 million tonnes, consumption of coal during 1997-9 was only 305.46 million tonnes mainly due to constraints of movement of coal and some imports in cement sector. The coal demand for 1998-99 has been assessed at 325.38 million tonnes excluding 7.5 million tonnes of washery middlings which would register a growth of 7.05 per cent. The estimated raw-coal demand of 325.38 million tonnes is proposed to be met from the domestic coal production of 306.5 million tonnes, stock drawdown of 2.65 million tonnes from CIL and an import of 10.14 million tonnes of cocking coal for steel. This would still leave a gap of about six million tonnes which may affect the performance of other sectors adversely.

2.99 Private sector participation has been allowed in the coal sector from June 1993 for captive mining of coal for power generation, steel making, cement production and washing of coal by suitably amending the coal mines (Nationalisation) Act 1973. However, the actual response has not been as expected due to constraints in existing framework and administered pricing of coal. The Ninth Plan has laid emphasis on private sector participation in commercial coal mining as recommended by the Committee on "Integrated Coal Policy" with a view to augment the domestic coal production which is, however, subject to legislative approval.

2.100 The demand for petroleum products during the Ninth Plan is projected to grow at the rate of 5.77 per cent. The demand for petroleum products in 1998-99 is estimated to be 88.56 million tonnes against the consumption of 84.29 million tonnes during 1997-98. The target of indigenous crude oil production including production from joint venture and private sector companies for the year 1998-99 is set at 31.54 million tonnes against actual production of 33.83 million tonnes in 1997-98. The refining capacity is targeted to increase to 67.55 million tonnes from 61.55 million tonnes with commissioning of 6 MMTPA Panipat Refinery during 1998-99. The crude throughput target for the year is 67.86 million tonnes against the actual crude throughput of 65.13 million tonnes during the year 1997-98. The balance requirement would be met through imports. It is estimated that 39.12 million tonnes of crude oil and about 21.80 million tonnes petroleum products would be imported during the year. Phased dismantling of administered pricing mechanism for crude oil and petroleum products has commenced with effect from April 1998. The prices are envisaged to be totally deregulated from April 2002.

2.101 The New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) has been finalised. The policy envisages exemption of import duties on capital goods and payment of cess on crude oil produced from contract areas. Royalty on crude oil would be 12.5 per cent for onshore areas, 10 per cent for offshore areas and 5 per cent for deep water areas.

2.102 The target for natural gas production and despatch for 1998-99 is set at 24.96 billion cu. Metres (BCM) and 20.04 BCM against the actual achievement of 24.71 and 19.74 BCM respectively in the previous year. The target for LPG production (by gas fractionation) is 1.68 million tonnes and that for NGL is 1.5 million tonnes for the year 1998-99.

2.103 Consumption of Iron Ore which was 40.3 million tonnes during 1997-98 recorded a growth of 5.8 per cent over the previous year. Domestic demand of iron ore for the year 1998-99 is expected to be of the order 41.7 million tonnes. The production recorded a growth 7.6 per cent during the year 1997-98 and for the year 1998-99 it is targeted to be 77.0 million tonnes indicating a growth of 4.9 per cent. India has been one of the major exporters of iron ore in the world ranking fourth after Brazil, Australia and CIS. In accordance with the Government Policy, there is shift in composition of exports from the raw material to value added finished goods resulting in increased share of manufactured exports.

2.104 The apparent consumption of finished steel during the year 1997-98 recorded a growth of 2.28 per cent as against the targeted growth of 8.05 per cent projected for the Ninth Five Year Plan. Sluggish demand in the steel consuming sectors such as construction, auto industry and infrastructure projects resulted in low demand of the finished steel. The demand of finished steel for the year 1998-99 has been projected at 27.02 million tonnes including 2.59 million tonnes of export. Production of finished steel during 1997-98 was 23.37 million tonnes recording a marginal growth of 2.8 per cent over the previous year. The availability of finished steel for the year 1998-99 is assessed at 25.53 million tonnes.

2.105 The installed capacity of fertilizers went up to 104.98 lakh tonnes of Nitrogen and 29.51 lakh tonnes of Phosphate during 1997-98 mainly due to commissioning of Kalol and Phulpur Expansion of Indian Farmers Fertilizers Co-operative Limited (IFFCO), expansion and modernization project of Madras Fertilizers Limited (MFL) at Manali and Expansion Project of Nagarjuna Fertilizers and Chemicals Limited (NFCL) at Kakinada.

2.106 The major schemes of the Department of Fertilizers (DOF) under implementation and likely to be completed during 1998-99 are :- IFFCO Kandla expansion, NFCL expansion at Kakinada (AP), Ammonia Plant of Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers (RCF) at Thal (Phase-II), Ammonia Project of GSFC, Baroda, Gujarat (Replacement of old Capacity). The new projects for ammonia-urea under active consideration are :- RCF Thal, Krishak Bharti Co- operative Limited (KRIBHCO) Hazaria and Gorakhpur and IFFCO, Nellore.

2.107 The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) launched National Programmes on leather, handmade Paper and bee keeping in 1997-98 for generating more employment. These programmes ould be further augmented in 1998-99. The programme of hand made paper envisaged increasing the existing capacity of hand made paper from 12,350 tonnes to 56,000 tonnes by 2001-2002. Under bee keeping programme, 121 projects are targeted to be set up in 91 districts for generating 50,000 new job opportunities in rural areas.

2.108 The Government has accorded high priority to food processing industry as it not only adds value to products but would also save large quantities of agriculture, horticulture, meat, and fish products which are going waste due to non- availability of processing facilities. There is a vast scope for creation of employment opportunities and increasing exports. Setting up of cold chains and providing of storing and processing facilities at airports and ports is a must for increasing exports of processed foods.

2.109 The transport system of the country which comprise railways, roads, sea ports and airports has witnessed a rapid growth in the last 50 years and contributed immensely to the development process of the country. The Indian Railways are one of the largest railway systems in the world with vast network of about 63000 route kilometers and are the principal mode of transportation for long haul freight movement in bulk and long distance passenger traffic and for mass rapid transit in suburban areas. The total freight and passenger traffic carried by railways increased over fourfold in the case of freight traffic and over threefold in the case of passenger traffic during 1950-51 to 1996-97. During 1997-98, railways handled 429.37 million tonnes of revenue earning originating freight traffic showing an increase of 4.9 per cent over the previous year. In case of originating passenger traffic, the achievement of 4348 million in 1997-98 revealed a growth rate of 4.7 per cent over the previous year. In terms of passenger Kms there was an increase of over 6 per cent in the corresponding period.

2.110 For the year 1998-99, a target of 450 million tonnes of revenue earning freight traffic has been set. The physical targets set for other programmes include gauge conversion 840 kms, track renewals 2710 kms, electrification 500 route kms and addition of new lines 360 kms for the year.

2.111 Roads constitute the critical element of transport infrastructure. Carriage of both freight and passenger traffic by road has been continuously increasing at a faster rate during the last four decade. Road system, therefore, has to be strengthened and also expanded to meet the requirements of growing traffic. Road development will continue to play an important role during 1998-99. Major thrust in the road sector will be on removing the existing deficiencies in the National Highway (NH) systems. Priority will be given to the timely completion of on-going works to avoid cost and time overruns. Weak and narrow bridges will be replaced. Other priority areas will be construction of missing links, four-laning and two-laning of single lane stretches and construction of by-passes etc. Maintenance of roads will receive a greater attention. The focus would also be on improving the road communication In backward and remote areas such as the North Eastern Region. Private sector participation in road construction will be actively encouraged. As regards State Highways and Major District Roads, the priority would be to consolidate the existing network rather than taking up expansion programmes.

2.112 Basic Minimum Services Programme (rural roads) envisages connectivity of all villages and habitants by all weather roads by 2002 A.D. About 85 per cent of villages with population 1000 and above have since been connected by all weather roads by the end of 1995-96. Priority during Annual Plan 1998-99 would be to provide connectivity to villages which have spilled over from the Eighth Plan. The states/UTs which have achieved 100 per cent connectivity of villages with population 1000 and above will take up villages with population below 1000. Pursuing the policy of private sector participation, the Ministry of Surface Transport has awarded 16 projects on Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis out of which three projects have since been completed, eight projects are reported be in progress and for five projects, Concession Agreement has been signed. Three more projects are likely to be awarded shortly.

2.113 The road transport sector plays an important role in the movement of both passengers and goods. It is the sole mechanized means of surface transport in hilly, rural and backward areas not connected by railways. The freight traffic is generally owned and operated by the private sector whereas the passenger services are operated by private and public sectors both. The share of State Road Transport Undertakings (SRTUs) in the national bus fleet is presently around 24.7 per cent. Despite improvement in the physical performance, the state road transport undertakings have been continuously incurring heavy losses, the main reasons being excess staff, large number of overaged buses, uneconomic fares and time lag between cost increase and fare revision.

2.114 Ports handle over 90 per cent of foreign trade. There are 11 major ports and 139 operable minor/intermediate ports in the country. The actual traffic handled by major ports increased from 227.26 million tonnes in 1996-97 to 251.4 million tonnes In 1997-98 registering an increase of 11 per cent over the previous year. Certain productivity indicators like average ship berth day output, idle time of berth and average ship turn around time (ASTA), though improving, are still lower compared to the neighboring foreign ports. The steps taken by the Government to improve the productivity are the introduction of interchangeability between dock and shore workers, providing multi scheme training to workers, deployment of composite gangs for cargo handling and the application of various production linked incentive schemes for cargo handling workers.

2.115 The capacity of major ports was 217 million tonnes as of March 1998. The major thrust during 1998-99 will be the augmentation of the capacity of the major ports, enhancing the levels of productivity of both equipment and labour, and achieving greater efficiency in the functioning of ports. Another important thrust area would be modernization of port facilities. One of the vehicles for such modernisation will be the greater involvement of the private sector which is expected to add significantly to the resources and technological base of the major ports. It will also address the process of corporatisation of major ports to enable them to function on commercial lines and the legal measures initiated in this regard will be speeded up.

2.116 At present, the share of Inland Water Transport (IWT) in the total freight traffic is less than one per cent. Out of the total availability of 14,544 km. Of navigable waterways only about 5,200 kms. of rivers and 485 kms. of canals are suitable for the operation of mechanised crafts. The basic infrastructure of the waterways is as yet under-developed and runs the risk of navigational hazards. The fleet of IWT vessels needs to be increased and also modernised. In order to develop IWT as an acceptable mode of transportation, three waterways have been declared as 'National Waterways' viz., Ganga National Waterways (1986), Brahamputra National Waterways (1988) and West Coast Canal (1993). Several ongoing projects will continue to be executed during 1998-99 like construction of terminal at Gaighat and Patna, fairway improvement/conservance works on National Waterways-I, Capital repair of vessels and so on.

2.117 The policy objective of providing adequate air transport capacity and ensuring healthy competition between the private and public sector as also safe and reliable operations is being pursued in 1998-99. The infrastructural development of airports has been opened up for public/private participation for reducing the financial burden on the government/Airports Authority of India for funding the development needs in the Airport sector. Construction of new airports through private agencies is also being considered. The private operators are catering to about 40 per cent of the domestic air traffic.

2.118 Telecommunication is one of the prime movers of Indian economy. Starting with about one lakh telephone connections at the time of independence, the Indian telecom network has increased to about 178 lakh lines by end of March, 1998. National Telecom Policy 1994 envisages universal availability of telephone facility of international standards at affordable prices within a definite time frame. Development and regulatory policies in the Ninth Plan would be guided by this basic approach. While public sector will continue to be dominate, private sector is expected to play a significant role for investments in this sector. The target for the year 1998-99 include 41 lakh lines of switching capacity, 36 lakhs new telephone connections and 80500 Village Public Telephones (VPTs).

2.119 Development of North-Eastern region has been receiving special attention in view of the strategic importance of the location and general backwardness of the area. To accelerate the pace of economic development of the region, it is envisaged to strengthen the telecom network by adding one lakh lines of switching capacity, 81 thousand DELs and 6800 VPTs during 1998-99.

2.120 With a view to give fillip to the economic development and growth of tribal and hilly areas and their integration into mainstream of national life, the Ninth Plan has laid special emphasis on accelerated development of telecom facility in such areas. During 1998-99 the telecom network is envisaged to be further strengthened by adding two lakh lines of switching capacity, 1.6 lakh DELs, 20,000 VPTs and 60 earth stations. Under the NCR Plan, States adjoining Delhi are envisaged to receive special attention during the Ninth Plan. Accordingly 124440 DELs and switching capacity of 138600 lines are envisaged for the year 1998-99 in the region.

2.121 Formulation of new telecom policy, evolving an appropriate organisational set up for existing telecom network of DOT, creating a congenial environment by removing operational constraints for private sector participation, restructuring the equipment manufacturing PSUs specially ITI Limited and promoting R and D activities in the country are the major policy issues to be resolved in this sector.

2.122 As a result of advances in communications and information technologies, the nature of postal services has changed significantly. Upgradation of technology and modernization of postal operations with expansion and diversification of services is envisaged to be continued as a thrust area in the Ninth Plan. Postal services are envisaged to be made self financing at the sectorial level. Modernisation of mail processing, development of man power and introduction of new and value-added services are the main priority areas. Keeping in line with the policy envisaged for the Ninth Plan, technology upgradation would continue to receive top priority during the Annual Plan 1998-99. The major targets envisages include opening of 598 Extra Departmental Post Offices (EDPOs) and 50 Departmental Sub-Offices (DSOs), providing equipment to 2700 Extra Departmental Branch Offices (EDBOs), installation of 250 ESMOs, modernisation of 35 mail offices, computerize Lower than targeted pace of expansion of postal networks specially in the rural areas and large subsidy of postal services are the major areas of concern.

2.123 The government has resolved to make India a global information technology super power and a front runner in the information revolution. Towards achieving this objective, a National Task Force of Information Technology and Software Development was set up in May, 1998 with Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission as Chairperson. The recommendations of the Task Force cover a wide spectrum of issues relating to telecom, finance, banking, revenue, commerce, electronics, HRD, defence and rural development.

2.124 The Task Force has already submitted its two reports. The final report concerns the citizens IT interface, content industry, IT RD and D, IT HRD and strategic policies. The recommendations of the report cover a wide spectrum of issues relating to Telecom, Finance, Banking, Revenue, Commerce, Electronics, HRD, Defence and Rural Development. To achieve the objective, the country should aim at an annual export target in excess of US $ 50 billion for computer software and a target of US $ 10 billion for computer and telecom hardware by year 2008. The compound growth rate of more than 55% between 1992-97 is planned to be increased to 80% by 2008.

2.125 Following recommendations of the National Task Force on IT, 1-3% of the budget of all the Ministries/Departments has been earmarked for expenditure on IT application. It is expected to generate about one million additional jobs every year.

Science and Technology and Environment

2.126 There has been significant growth in the capability and also in the accomplishment in basic sciences and higher technology areas such as nuclear science, space science, ocean science, bio-technology and scientific and industrial research. The emphasis has been on self-reliance in nuclear technology through indigenous Research and Development (R and D). The neutron source Kamini reactor set up by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) attained full power level of 30 KWt. The variable energy cyclotron centre at Calcutta and the centre for Advanced Technology at Indore were engaged In the operation and R and D activities relating to accelerators. Besides developing and nurturing technologies for nuclear power and associated programmes including non-power areas, work in basic and applied research in frontier fields of science is being carried out.

2.127 During the Annual Plan 1998-99, some new programmes relating to advance reactor development, nuclear fuel development, safety related technology development, etc. would be initiated, besides continuing the on-going programmes. Major approach would be on development of technology in front line areas on a multi-institutional mode, setting up of new facilities like radioactive ion beam, pilot plant for development of amorphous silicon solar cells, low temperature and high temperature facilities, 2.5 metre telescope, Fourier Transform Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (FTNMR) facilities, etc., in the universities and new initiatives for setting up centres of National importance in the field of Science and Technology such as Centre for Biological and Organic Mass Spectroscopy, National Centre for Computational Fluid Dynamics, Plant Genome and Advanced Combustion Engineering. A new scheme entitled "Fund for Improvement of S and T Infrastructure in Universities and related institutions (FIST) would be initiated. As a part of the modernisation of the meteorological forecasting sophisticated Doppler Radars will be introduced by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) in the cyclone detection network. The upgradation of INSAT-II ground equipment would also be completed.

2.128 In the areas of bio-technology, major efforts would be to identify those R and D projects which have shown potential R and D leads for product and process development. Some of the areas where special projects will be initiated include diagnostics for safe blood supply, communicable/non-communicable diseases, oncology, malaria, diarrhoeal diseases, operationalisation of Brain Research Centre, Plant Genome Research, etc.

2.129 In the areas of space sciences, the major launch planned during 1998-99 include INSAT-2E, first development flight of GSLV, GSAT-1 on board GSLV and IRS-P4 along with two foreign satellites on board PSLV-C2. Emphasis would also be on activities related to INSAT-3, PSLV C4-C6, IRS P5-P6 and the second launch pad projects besides realisation of the targeted milestones in the GSLV, Cryo Upper Stage, INSAT-2E, GSAT-1 and PSLV C1-C3 projects. Developmental work would also be initiated for the GSAT-2 and 3, besides the C-20 Cryogenic stage and S-300 motor development for meeting the increased payload requirements. In addition, the space application programmes like NNRMS/NRIS, IMSD, GRAMSAT pilot project (Jhabua) and the technology development and refurbishment of R and D facilities to support the launch vehicle and satellite development programmes would also be continued.

2.130 Major programmes proposed to be taken up in the ocean sciences include 18th scientific expedition to Antarctica for conducting research in areas of atmospheric, geological, biological, environmental, medical, engineering and communication etc., spot sampling at 5 Km grid, spot photography, development of a sea bed mining for nodules at 6000 mt depth etc., under the PMN programme; collection of sea truth data on real time basis; setting up of Ocean Information Service Centre; Integrated Coastal and Marine Area Management (ICMAM) activities like development of model plans, EIA guidelines for coastal development, construction of national facility on ICMAM etc. would be taken up.

2.131 Some of the significant achievements in the field of scientific and industrial research include development of bio-sensor for detection and estimation of organo-phosphorus pesticide residues in natural waters, process for production of secondary alcohols, CFC substitute, technology for conversion of raw castor oil to undecenoic acid, bio-adhesive used for sutureless surgery etc. During the Annual Plan (1998-99) CSIR would be taking up new initiatives in selected thrust areas such as aerospace, biotechnology, chemicals, drugs and pharmaceuticals, earth resources, energy, ecology and environment. Efforts would also be made to modernise the S and T infrastructure in the national laboratories to meet the new challenges. The thrust of the Programme aimed at technological self reliance would be on projects for up-scaling of lab/bench scale processes and projects of weak R and D base sectors like electrical engineering and mining. A compilation and analysis of foreign collaborations for the year 1997 would be brought out and studies relating to technology transfer, technology growth etc. would be taken up.

2.132 There has been an increasing awareness in recent years that the protection of the environment is necessary for sustaining the economic and social progress of the country. During the Annual Plan 1998-99, efforts would be made to achieve this objective through various environment-friendly programmes. The protection of natural environment, regeneration of degraded eco-system, decentralise of control over natural resources and monitoring the state of environment are the major objectives of these programmes. The economic and social progress of the country is being threatened by degradation of the environment. Concerted efforts needs to be made to have multi-pronged attack on the problem of environmental degradation. There are two schemes under the head of clean technology namely environmental impact assessment and development and promotion of clean technologies. During the year 1998, Planning Commission constituted a core group to deal with the problems of global warming/climate change and to take holistic view in the matter and to work out possible policy responses. India is one of the 12 mega-bio diversity countries of the world and is also a party to the Convention on Bio-Diversity (CBD). A draft legislation and National Policy on Bio-Diversity Conservation have been formulated and are under consideration of the Government.


Annual Plan 1998-99

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