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Project delay to top Delhi meet agenda

Guwahati, Dec. 18: The Centre has said major projects in the Northeast would require at least 10 to 15 years to be completed and consequently would require more investment.

Mentioned in the draft 12th Five Year Plan of the Planning Commission, this will be discussed at the National Development Council meeting on December 27 in New Delhi.

Though projects may not have been completed, there has been no dearth of money flowing in.

The total plan expenditure by the Centre and the states of Northeast, including the North Eastern Council, is approximately Rs 1.23 lakh crore during the four years of the Eleventh Plan, which is likely to go up to Rs 1.5 lakh crore.

At present, more than 50 central ministries/departments earmark 10 per cent of the gross budgetary support for the Northeast.

“The Northeast witnessed encouraging growth during last two plan periods. This is primarily because of the investments in the major projects by the Centre and the developmental programmes taken up by the states. But the major connectivity projects are yet to be completed and the incentive package for industrial development has not been able to attract investment and completion of all the major projects is likely to take more time,” the draft plan said.

It said the success of Look East Policy would depend on the co-operation from the neighbouring countries and there were still some remote areas deprived of development opportunities.

“Requirement of these areas will need to be addressed by special plan investments,” it said.

The commission said the general concern in the region was that many of the projects were under implementation for a long time. “While projects are also being reviewed at the apex level, the progress is still slow,” it added.

The indicative gross budgetary support for the Twelfth Plan for DoNER is Rs 955 crore which is excluding the North Eastern Council, Non-lapsable Central Pool of Resources, Bodoland Territorial Council and central assistance for state plan.

The commission said from the performance analysis of the states, suggestions made by the northeastern states, discussions in the Planning Commission and North Eastern Council meeting, it emerged that emphasis on the development of infrastructure must continue so that the region could become strong, confident and capable of engaging with external markets.

Agreeing that expenditure-control measures and initiatives in fiscal reforms did yield some marginal improvement in the fiscal management, the impact of growing expenditure because of revision in the salaries of the state government employees had gone much beyond the means and affected the availability of resources for projects.

“While the Planning Commission has supplemented the resource requirement by providing special central assistance, particularly during the last two years of the Eleventh Plan, this continues to be an area of concern,” it said.

On the banking sector, it said various indicators for the Northeast showed that despite improvement in the banking facilities in the last five years, the level of financial outreach was low. “The penetration of banking in the Northeast, particularly in the rural areas, has been very low and the credit-deposit ratio of the region is far below the national average,” it said.

Areas like roads, railway, aviation, inland water transport, education and some others require special attention in the Twelfth Plan.

5 lakh postcards sent

Five lakh people in Karimganj district have sent signed postcards to President Pranab Mukherjee seeking his intervention to expedite the delayed East-West corridor and Silchar-Lumding broad gauge projects.

This mass postcard campaign was sponsored by the Barak Broadgauge Implementation Demand committee, an NGO.

The work of the 201-km BG line between Silchar and Lumding started in 1998.

The Silchar-Porobander expressway has also been delayed because of insurgency in Dima Hasao district and the lackadaisical attitude of the Union forest ministry to grant clearance for the deforestation of some reserved forestland.