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All villages will be connected by all-weather roads by 2000
The Congress will take up administrative reforms immediately with the objective of transforming the civil administration from being a regulator to being a catalyst for growth and social change.
Lateral induction of professionals and specialists at all levels on a contract basis will be encouraged in a substantial manner. Extensive training programmes will be introduced to keep the civil service up-to-date.
Accountability of officials to local bodies where local bodies have constitutional responsibilities and functions will be ensured.
In keeping with the recommendations of the Fifth Pay Commission, the retirement age will be raised to 60.
The Congress will review the existing policy in regard to secrecy and confidentiality with a view to opening the doors of government to the wider public in a meaningful manner.
The Congress will identity those environmental management functions that could be delegated to states. The Congress will also ensure that environment and development go hand-in-hand and do not conflict with each other.
The Congress will ensure that the interests of workers affected by judicial rulings on polluting and hazardous industries will be fully protected.
The Congress is committed to effective relief and rehabilitation measures and resettlement programme for people affected by development projects.
The Congress believes that polluters must pay for the cost of abatement, mitigation and control.
Science and Technology
The Congress will transfer the revenue earned from the cess on technology imports to the Technology Development Board to support commercialisation of indigenous technology. Public-private partnerships in technology development in key areas like pharmaceuticals will be actively encouraged.
Rajivji had opened new challenges and frontiers for our scientists and technologists by launching technology missions in areas of national importance like water supply, immunisation, literacy, oilseeds and telecommunications. New technology missions will be launched in the areas of agriculture, health, animal husbandry, and energy.
Our laboratories and research institutions need infusion of new blood, new equipment and a whole new management culture. The Congress will initiate specific programmes for the modernisation of agricultural universities and of the laboratories forming part of the ICAR, ICMR and the CSIR network. ISRO and DRDO will continue to get priority and their linkages with the rest of the economy will be maximised.
There is a large brain bank of Indian scientists and technologists that is settled in other countries. Innovative methods of using this resource in areas of high-priority will be considered and efforts made to derive maximum benefit.
The Congress is concerned at the falling proportion of young men and women taking science as a career. Science education will be made more interesting and exciting.
The Congress is committed to the implementation of the Common Minimum National Action Plan on Power.
The Congress will ensure that public investment in power will be restored to its proper place even as efforts are made to encourage greater private and foreign investment. The country must add at least 7000 to 8000 Mw of generating capacity every year during the Ninth Plan, that is 1998 to 2003.
The Congress government in Orissa has initiated far-reaching and radical reforms of the power sector that has won worldwide acclaim. The Congress will work with the states to ensure that similar organisational, financial and legal reforms are introduced all over the country.
Renovation and modernisation of existing power stations will be taken up systematically. Measures will also be taken to eliminate theft of power and the growing menace of illegal connections.
The Congress will work resolutely to build a stable national grid to enable transfer of power from surplus to deficit regions. The bill on private transmission will be converted into an Act. Distribution of power will be privatised. Independent tariff-fixing and regulatory bodies will be established.
Oil and Gas
The Congress will take immediate steps to augment oil exploration and production capability through both the public and private sectors and through joint ventures with foreign companies. All pending contracts will be awarded on a time-bound basis.
All efforts will be made to ensure that the waiting list for LPG connections is cleared quickly.
The Congress will ensure that the Administered Price Mechanism in the oil and gas sector is fully restructured by 2002.
The Congress will ensure that oil companies will undergo both technological and organisational change to make them globally competitive.
The Congress will establish a national gas grid. Flaring of gas will be brought to a halt.
The Congress will encourage massive investment in coal exploration, mining and production in a pragmatic manner.
The Congress will initiate a major programme of environmental management in the coal industry and for improving the quality of life in the coal mining areas. A clan coal technology utilisation programme will also be launched.
The Congress will ensure that the availability of fertilisers is ensured fully at all times.
Imbalances have arisen in the use of nitrogenous fertilisers in relation to phosphatic and potassic fertilisers. Such imbalances will be rectified through appropriate price policies.
All sub-division and tehsil headquarters will be brought on to the national STD network by the end of 1998.
All gram panchayats will be provided with telephone facilities well before the turn of the century.
The Congress will use the latest technology to modernise the postal system. To speed up transmission of money orders, a satellite money order service will be launched to cover all villages and towns.
The Congress will diligently implement the National Telecom Policy of 1994 and take it further in light of the experience gained. Private and foreign investors will be given full opportunity for operating telecom services in competition with the DOT without any disadvantage or discrimination. DOT will be corporatised and the independence of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India will be fully respected.
The Congress will take immediate steps to establish, with the help of the private sector, a national multimedia information infrastructure.
Satellite television will also be used creatively to spread education and literacy.
Roads and Ports
All villages will be connected by all-weather roads by the year 2000 AD. Adequate funds to ensure that this actually happens will be provided.
Over the next five to six years, high traffic two-lane national highways will be converted into four-lanes. Private and foreign investment will be actively encouraged in this programme. Expressways in high-traffic corridors will also be built with participation of Indian and foreign companies.
The Congress will take steps to ensure that ports are run on modern business-like lines and new technologies like container terminals are utilised. New major ports will have a corporate structure. All assistance will also be provided to state governments wishing to develop new ports with the help of private investors.
There has been a marked deterioration in the safety of railways in the past 18 months. The Congress will accord top priority to put systems in place that will ensure the safety of the lakhs of passengers who travel by rail daily.
There are still large parts of India that are not served well by the rail network. The Congress will bring these areas into the railway system in a time-bound manner.
Innovative means to enhance investment in and technological modernisation of the railways will be explored and adopted.
The organisation structure of the railways has to reflect the new and contemporary challenges that it has to face. No structure can remain frozen. The Congress will appoint a High-Powered Commission to suggest an effective management system for the railways in the 21st century.
The Congress believes that it is time to redefine fundamentally the role of the public sector given the growth of entrepreneurship in the country and the pressure on public expenditure from more essential social sectors like education and health.
Where the public sector has to continue as on security and strategic considerations, it must be reorganised and operate on commercial lines. For this, there must be adequate autonomy and accountability. This will be ensured.
The Disinvestment Commission has been making far-reaching recommendations on a number of PSUs. The United Front has ignored these reports. The Congress will seriously and systematically implement the recommendations of the Disinvestment Commission. The Commission itself will be given statutory status and made into a professional, executive body. The proceeds of disinvestment, strategic sale, etc. will not be used to meet gaps in budgetary resources.
Small-scale industry is the backbone of the Indian economy. The Congress will provide all necessary support to make it competitive and efficient. Special financial, marketing, and technological promotion measures will be implemented. The Small Industries Development Bank of India will be strengthened.
Special bank facilities in 100 clusters of small-scale industry will be created. Common service facilities like testing and effluent control will also be provided in such clusters.
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