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  • The 68th Plenary session of the North Eastern Council (NEC) meeting ended successfully

    Published on September 9, 2019

    By Bhupen Goswami

    Guwahati : The 68 th Plenary session of the North Eastern Council (NEC) was held in Guwahati on the 8 th & 9 th September, 2019. In his inaugural address, the Union Home Minister and Chairman NEC, Amit Shah highlighted the efforts made by the Government in improving the economic and social integration of the North eastern states with the rest of the country. He indicated that the present government would give emphasis on improving the rail and air network in the region and high priority to developing the bamboo sector. While giving a road-map for 2022, he stressed on improving the condition of segments of society in the region which have historically been neglected and deprived, especially sub-tribes and people groups with small population and endangered languages. The Chairman announced that thirty percent of the NEC’s budget would henceforth be spent on such people and areas.

    The Chairman NEC also held separate discussions with the Chief Ministers of the states on matters of inter-state importance. Addressing the meeting, the MoS (DoNER) Dr Jitendra Singh said that the priority of the Government has been to pay attention to the stalled development projects in the North East. Speaking about the enhanced fund allocation to the north eastern states, the Minister said that the annual allocations have increased from Rs 579 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 1055 crore in 2018-19, and more than 60 per cent of this allocation had gone to the states. For the year 2019-20 NEC has been given its highest Budgetary Allotment of Rs 1476 crore, he added.

    The Minister further said that there has been enhanced pace of fund utilization in North east which is evident from the fact that Utilization Certificates worth Rs. 726.03 crore have been submitted by the State Governments for the schemes of this Ministry in this year alone.  Speaking about the 100 day action plan of the Government, the DoNER Minister said that the NEC also prepared a 5-year Vision Plan for the development of the Region. He said that the upgradation of NEC to a state-of-the-art resource centre for the North Eastern states with the necessary resources, knowledge and skills, construction of over 1,000 KM of roads under NE Road Sector Development Scheme, setting up Greenfield airports at Kohima and Shillong at the cost of Rs 1,000 crore each, combating climate change and water stress through water source rejuvenation are some of the highlights of the Vision Plan. All the Governors and Chief Ministers of the eight north eastern states and other members also attended the meet and presented their speeches.

    While addressing the Plenary, they highlighted the achievements of the NEC and gave insights for shaping the development agenda of the region. It was emphasised that NEC as a regional planning body and a resource centre should play a major role in guiding the states towards achieving the goal of development at par with the rest of the country. The creation of shared infrastructure, setting up of shared institutions and finding and pursuing common interests for all the eight states should continue to be the vision and objective of the Council. Senior officials from the states and key Ministries of the Government of India were also present. From the Central Government, presentations were made by the Ministries of Civil Aviation, Telecommunications, Jal Shakti, Railways, Health & Family Welfare, Power, Road Transport and Highways, Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, Tourism, External Affairs, School Education & Literacy and Food Processing highlighting recent efforts made by the Government in the NE region. Some of the key areas in which initiatives have been taken are upgradation of airports, increasing air connectivity of north east region with South-East Asian countries, strengthening broadband network and mobile connectivity especially in the uncovered villages in areas along the international border. While making their presentations, the state Chief Secretaries highlighted the progress made in various projects funded by the NEC. There were deliberations on the progress of ongoing projects of the NEC, outlays by Central Ministries in the North Eastern Region and plans for the period beyond March 2020 when the Fourteenth Finance Commission era comes to an end. They also gave valuable suggestions on increasing the scope of the Council’s interventions in the Region and improving the funds flow to the states. The decisions and recommendations of the NEC Plenary will be sent to various Ministries and departments of the Central and state governments for taking appropriate action.