Shillong, May 27 (IANS) Chief ministers of the eight northeastern states on Friday appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for increased funds to the North Eastern Council (NEC), the regional planning body, to meet the development needs of the region.
Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla said that it was disturbing to notice that funds allocated to NEC over the past seven years have remained static, whereas it should have increased substantially to enable the Council to take up developmental activities in the core sectors more vigorously.
“It is depressing to find that against6 the approved outlay of Rs.6,108 crore for the NEC’s 12th Plan only a little over Rs.4,108 crore have been actually allocated till terminal year of the Plan period 2016-17,” he said at the 65th plenary session of the NEC held here.
Moreover, the Mizoram chief minister said that it was a “tragic irony” that huge Plan funds are allowed to lapse when the region really needs larger financial resources.
Expressing concern on the gradual decline of the NEC’s role and importance in the process of development over the period of its existence, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal believed that a decision for a higher funding was essential if the northeastern states have to move rapidly and grow the at the same rate as the rest of India.
“Assam supports enhancement of the allocation for NEC and a rational distribution of funds among the states of the region on a clearly laid out criteria. It should be the collective region of all north-eastern states to secure additional funds for development of the region,” he said.
Expressing concern that the allocation for the NEC during 2016-17 of Rs.800 crore was only an increase of 3.5 percent over the allocation of 2015-16, Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma said: “Such meagre increase in allocation does not angur well for the region. This has compelled the NEC to avoid taking up and supporting important projects prioritized by the states to take care of critical developmental gaps.”
Sangma also suggested the central government that some of the funds available under the Non Lapsable Central Pool of Resources may be allocated to the NEC for implementation of inter-sectoral and integrated development plans in various north-eastern states, particularly as investments to achieve the goals under Vision 2020.
Meanwhile, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Kalikho Pul said that the basis of growth in his state will have to begin at the infrastructure sector, citing the state’s “two realities” where “while on the one hand we have seen the spectacular growth of urban centres like the capital at Itanagar, the state still has its villages today that are not connected by road or even have the very basic amenities of electricity and safe drinking water”.
“When we couple this with the extremely large geographical area, almost the size of the rest of the northeastern states put together with a population that is scattered with a density of 17 persons per square kilometre, we suddenly see the planning and developmental challenge that confronts us.”