Shillong, May 26 (IANS) Governors and chief ministers of the eight northeastern states on Thursday called for increasing the budget allocation to North Eastern Council (NEC) to achieve its stated goal.
The demand was made during the plenary meet of the NEC, the regional planning body of the eight states – Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura – chaired by union Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Minister Jitendra Singh.
Singh admitted that the annual budgetary allocation of just over Rs.700 crore for the NEC may not even enough for one state to implement the developmental activities.
“Even the DoNER ministry has Rs.400 crore and in the early years, the budget for DoNER was only around Rs.200 crore but the Finance Ministry is seriously looking into it,” said Singh, who is also the NEC.
Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma and his Nagaland counterpart T.R.Zeliang stressed on the need to hike the budgetary allocation to the NEC in order to implement all the developmental goals.
“I strongly feel that the officials from the finance ministry and Niti Aayog should participate in the meeting to understand the ground realities of ensuring development in the region,” Zeliang said.
“The Council should take a consensus decision to raise the budgetary allocation,” Sangma said.
Supporting the demand to hike the budgetary allocation, Assam and Nagaland Governor,P.B. Acharya, however stressed the need to focus on crucial issues such as road connectivity, power and skill education to uplift developmental activities in the region.
“Let us restrict to the allocations whatever we got, but we need to focus on road connectivity, power and skill education,” he said.
The plenary session also discussed the proposal to make the northeastern region as organic capital of India to boost organic farming throughout the region.
Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling, who has been advocating in the past about how the north-eastern states can be the organic food producers, said: “A quick survey can be done to ascertain which states are ready for this exercise besides looking at the marketing potential.”
In order to promote potential tourism industry in the region, the council has recommended setting up a North East Tourism Development Council (NETDC) which will be professionally managed by a chief executive officer.
The NEC would support the formation of the NETDC in public private partnership mode and will work as a single nodal agency to co-ordinate with the tourism and DoNER ministries, other central ministries and the state governments.
The session also adopted the proposal to set up an Act East Secretariat in the NEC in collaboration with the Rajiv Gandhi Indian Institute of Management, Shillong to drive the policy and also be repository and single reference point for the people of the region.