SHILLONG, July 09: The states in the North East region of India are set to receive a financial package of Rs 4,500 crore for three years (2017-18 to 2019-20) as has been approved with a window for North Eastern Council (NEC) to receive additional infusion of funds during 2018-19 depending on availability of resources, performance of the scheme and utilization of funds.
Announcing this here on Monday, Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh said that the approval comes with a direction to focus NEC’s intervention in specific areas and to ensure convergence with schemes of other ministries of the central government.
Singh had made this announcement while addressing the 67th plenary meet of the NEC held in the state capital here on Monday. In this regard, Singh said that recently, the Cabinet had approved the extension of the schemes of the NEC beyond March 2017 till March 2020.
Singh, who is also the ex-officio chairman of NEC, however said the NEC will have to ensure maximum utilization of existing funds for completion of ongoing schemes in order to enable it to approach the Ministry of Finance for additional funds during 2018-19.
He pointed out that the third party evaluation of the NEC carried out by IIM Shillong had indicated that a large amount of NEC funds were lying in the states in the form of unspent balances.
“This has affected the smooth implementation of NEC projects,” Singh said while urging the Forum to deliberate on ways and means to expedite long pending projects of the NEC so that additional funds can be sought from the Ministry of Finance.
Further, the Union Home Minister informed that the Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister has in March earlier this year approved the North East Industrial Development Scheme (NEIDS), 2017 with financial outlay of Rs 3,000 crores up-to March 2020.
He said the government will provide necessary allocations for the remaining period of schemes after assessment before March 2020.
Stating that NEIDS is a combination of the incentives covered under the earlier two schemes with a much larger outlay, he said this newly introduced scheme shall promote industrialization in the states of the North Eastern Region and will boost employment and income generation.
“I urge upon the entrepreneurs to take this opportunity and set up industrial units and generate the much needed employment. Perhaps this plenary can act as a facilitator,” he added.
Also stating that the government is committed to doubling farmer’s income by 2022, Singh said the Centre government has increased the budgetary allocation of agriculture and farmer welfare Ministry in the budget 2018-19 to Rs 58,080 crore from Rs 51,576 crore in 2017-18.
To achieve this ambitious objective, the government is encouraging to adopt the ‘multi-dimensional seven-point’ strategy suggested by Prime Minister, of which promotion of value addition through food processing and promotion of allied activities such as dairy-animal husbandry, poultry, bee-keeping, Har Medh Par Pedh, horticulture and fisheries are particularly relevant to the NE region.
He expressed his hope that this plenary will discuss on these strategies and formulate programmes to ensure that farmer’s income is doubled and is sustained.
He also said that the NEC could become a spring board for regional integration and prosperity with South East Asia towards realizing the objectives of the Government’s Act East Policy.
On the transformation of aspirational districts programme launched by the PM to quickly and effectively transform some of the most underdeveloped districts of the country, Singh also urged the meeting to deliberate on strategies to transform the 14 identified districts of the North East as leading examples for others to emulate.
The Union Home Minister meanwhile lauded the NEC for leveraging its community-based project, North Eastern Region Community Resource Management Project (NERCORMP), to design sustainable livelihoods interventions and for improving the life of a lot of rural households in the NER.
“Strong Community base is the strength of this region. NERCORMP can serve as a Centre of Excellence for Livelihoods. It can coordinate with various Ministries of the Central Government and engage with State Governments, District Administrations and non-government bodies for improving grassroots planning in the backward areas of the region and for facilitating exchange of ideas and dissemination of the best practices of various livelihood programs for wider application,” he said.
Expressing his admiration of the people of the North East for their bravery, their strong sense of pride in themselves and their unique culture, Singh said the people from all walks of life from the region had made and were making remarkable contributions to build a modern India.
Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel/ DoPT, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh, who is also the Vice-Chairman of the NEC, in his speech gave details of NEC history and changes from time to time.
He said that the Ministry has brought DoNER at the doorsteps of the North East Region. Dr Singh said that out of 116 aspirational districts of the country, 14 districts are in the North Eastern region. These districts are assessed on the basis of 48 indicators of the growth.
Regarding infrastructural growth in the region, he said that the government is addressing the concern of ‘Orphan roads’, common to two bordering states but not being attended by either state in the region.
Enumerating the activities of the DoNER Ministry, Dr Singh said that is organizing ‘North East Calling’ and ‘Destination North East’ activities in different parts of the country for faster integration.
He also mentioned the hostel facilities for North East Student at New Delhi which has been constructed in Dwarka and Rohini. He said that hostel for North East students in Bengaluru is also being constructed “as it is the need of the time”.
Governors of Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Sikkim, Mizoram, Meghalaya, and Arunachal Pradesh, and six Chief Ministers from the NE states of Meghalaya, Assam, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland delivered their speeches at the plenary. Senior officers of the eight North-Eastern states, top officials of NEC and DoNER Ministry were also present at the plenary.