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CMs voice need for central funds

DoNER minister Gen. (retd) V.K. Singh (right) speaks at the conference in Guwahati on Friday. Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Nabam Tuki is to his right. Picture by UB Photos

Guwahati, Aug. 22: The northeastern states have advocated higher levels of allocation for the non-lapsable central pool of resources and North Eastern Council (NEC) schemes to accelerate the pace of development in the region.

DoNER minister Gen. (retd) V.K. Singh today said there was unanimity among the chief ministers of the northeastern states in seeking higher levels of allocation of the schemes.

“The chief ministers also stressed the need to modify the funding pattern under these schemes keeping in view the resource deficiency in the northeastern states,” Singh said while addressing the media on the concluding day of a two-day conference of chief ministers of the northeastern states.

The pool of resources is made up of the unutilised part of 10 per cent funds that every central ministry sets aside every fiscal for the region while the NEC is the nodal agency for the economic and social development of the northeastern states.

Apart from the chief ministers, Union ministers, MPs, chief secretaries of the states, secretaries to the Union government and high-ranking officials of the Centre and the state governments participated in the conference, which was organised at the initiative of the DoNER ministry.

The chief ministers of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura and senior ministers of Sikkim and Meghalaya addressed the conference.

“A number of state-specific and regional issues that were perceived to be obstructing the development process and smooth integration of the region with the mainstream were discussed at the conference,” Singh said.

The chief ministers also articulated the need to connect the state capitals by a four-lane highway, broad gauge rail link and direct flights to and from New Delhi, Singh added. “Connectivity is a major issue in the region and a lot of work is being done in this regard. Many greenfield airports are coming up in the region and there will be much better connectivity in the region in the next two to three years,” he said.

“The Union government will be giving more attention to areas like water transportation, education, health, employment generation, skill development, business and economics,” Singh said.

He said two new schemes announced in the budget for road development and organic farming in the Northeast were also discussed.

“The conference was addressed by Union minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju and minister of state for civil aviation G.M. Siddeshwara, who shared their vision of development with the audience,” the DoNER minister said.

Singh assured the participants that all efforts would be made to expedite the pace of development in the region.

He also emphasised the setting up a free trade zone for the region, showcasing some successful project and adoption of best practices. Subject-specific working groups also made presentations where specific issues relating to project and plans for the next three years were flagged.