The smallest level of planning should be at the block level, followed by local government, state, national and global levels. The concept of a ‘block’ is fundamental to socio-economic planning. It is also essential for economic decentralization. There should be provision in the constitution of different countries and states for block-level planning for proper socio-economic development.
For proper environmental planning, the natural and human resources should be looked at firstly from the block level, and separate economic plans will have to be made for each and every block. There should be a block-level planning board in every block for this purpose. These blocks can integrate with the local councils formed across a country of its states. The block-level planning body will prepare a plan for the development of the block and accordingly implement local developmental programs through or on behalf of the council.
Above the block level there should be a district-level planning board, which can be within each local council or across local councils. Thus, from the block level upwards, there will be planning boards to prepare and implement the local plans and programs. It must be remembered that planning should be of ascending order, starting at the block level, and including all the levels of a socio-economic unit. This system is the surest way for ensuring that environmental considerations are fully recognized, understood and considered.
Block divisions should be reorganized according to such factors as the physical features of the area (including river valleys, varying climatic conditions, topography, the nature of the soil, the type of flora and fauna, etc.), the socio-economic requirements and problems of the people, and their physico-psychic aspirations. Thus, blocks should be scientifically and systematically demarcated as the basis for efficient decentralized economic planning.
Each block should be made economically sound so that the entire socio-economic unit in which the blocks operate will be self-sufficient. Only then will a regions, country or federation of states become economically strong and developed in the real sense. This is a unique and important feature of decentralized economic planning.
When planning is prepared for the all-round growth of a single block exclusively, it is called ‘intra-block planning’. This necessitates that each block must have its own developmental plan, adjusting with the overall plan of the socio-economic unit at its various levels.
However, there are problems which traverse block boundaries and cannot be tackled or solved by one block alone. These problems and issues relate to matters such as river valley projects, water supply, flood control, soil erosion, afforestation projects, the environmental impact of development, the establishment of key industries, power generation, communication systems, higher educational institutions, the establishment of an organized market system, and so on. So, cooperation among blocks is necessary.
Planning among blocks is called ‘inter-block planning’. Inter-block planning is an economic venture into some selected fields to organize and harmonize socio-economic development in a few adjoining blocks through mutual coordination and cooperation.
For more on socio-economic units and block-level planning refer to the Progressive Utilization Theory (PROUT) which covers these matters in more detail. More on Prout can be found throughout these pages.