Guwahati, Feb. 3: The Northeast will continue to grow faster than the rest of the country in the Twelfth Plan, the deputy chairman of Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, said here today.
Addressing the inaugural session of the conference on Infrastructure Developments in the Northeast Region — Leveraging Opportunities, organised by CII, Ahluwalia said the gross state domestic product (GSDP) of northeastern states had exceeded the national average in the Eleventh Plan. This growth would continue in the Twelfth Plan (2012–17).
“We are seeing the start of transformation of the Northeast and this will continue to happen. If the power potential of the region is properly harnessed, there is no doubt that this could be achieved,” he said.
The two-day conference, organised by CII in partnership with Planning Commission and DoNER at Sarusajai Indoor Stadium, was attended by ministers of the Northeast, policy makers and industrialists.
The GSDP of northeastern states grew by nearly 10 per cent during the Eleventh Plan (2007-2012) compared to eight per cent for the country as a whole.
Sources said this growth was supported by good agriculture sector performance, including horticulture, floriculture, fisheries, rubber and oil palm production.
On the progress in the region, Ahluwalia said signs of better connectivity were being witnessed in the Northeast though project implementation needed to be improved. Three more hangars are coming up at Guwahati airport by September.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in a meeting with chief ministers of the Northeast on January 20, had noted that considerable progress was being made in several sectors and had directed the Planning Commission to constitute a monitoring committee with representatives from the northeastern states to improve coordination among central ministries.
Underscoring the importance of hydel power for the Northeast, the deputy chairman said the region can earn a lot from it and it is estimated that for every 1,000MW capacity addition, it can earn Rs 650-670 crore of revenue every year. It was mentioned in the January 20 meeting that the cabinet committee on investment had cleared the Dibang multipurpose hydroelectric power project in Arunachal Pradesh recently.
If Ahluwalia spoke of accelerated growth in the Northeast, Assam industries and power minister Pradyut Bordoloi spoke of putting “economics” before “ security” while framing policies for the Northeast.
Bordoloi said in order to reap the benefits of the Look East policy and foreign trade agreements with neighbouring countries, it was necessary to have transit arrangements, proliferation of trade routes and customs checkposts.
He also stressed on an easy visa regime, making it possible for traders, businesspersons and transport operators to move in and out of the region. It calls for a large investment in infrastructure.
D. Chaudhry, additional secretary in the ministry of power, said the increasing availability of power in the Northeast needs to be put to productive use, or else the huge potential would not yield the expected local economic benefits.
By 2016-17, power availability will be 7,515MW, including 1,967MW to Assam, with an investment of about Rs 52,000 crore.