|Cover Story Vol. 3 Issue No. 5||June 16 -30, 2006|
Within a week of assuming power, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government upgraded the Department of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) to a Ministry in order to further sharpen the focus on development Issues of the North-Eastern Region. Thus the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region was functional from May 28 2004. During the period, the North Eastern Council (NEC) has been restructured to effectively function as a Regional Planning Body.
As per the recommendations of an expert committee constituted for this purpose, Minister, DoNER has been made the Chairman of NEC for better synergy. Besides three expert Members at par with the Members of the Planning Commlsston havebeen nominated to the NEC. A new complex, equipped with modern communication and other facilities, has been established for the NEC Secretariat to effectively discharge its role for the integrated development of the NER. The NEC has started functoning from its new premises.
Vision Document for the North- Eastern Region
A Committee has been appointed by the Chairman, NEC to draw up a Blue Print for formulation of a Comprehensive time bound Road Map for Speedy Socio-Economic Up liftment of the North-Eastern Region. The “North East Vision -2020” document is being prepared taking into account the heightened consciousness of the people in the NER, their aspirations, needs and sensitivities. It would encompass all the key sectors of the economy and the vast resource potential of the Region. The Vision Document is expected to be ready later this year.
Non-Lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR)
The Ministry has streamlined the process for approval of projects under its flagship Scheme of NLCPR. As a result a large number of projects could be sanctioned during this period. The number of projects sanctioned during this period was 187, which is 24% of the total of 767 projects sanctioned since the commencement of NLCPR during 1998-89. A Custom made software has been developed by NIC for monitoring NLCPR projects. With improved monitoring and concerted efforts, 375 of the 767 projects have completed till date. The total outflow from NLCPR to the North-Eastern states during the last two years has been Rs. 1329 crore including Rs.200 crore for the development of Bodoland Areas. The release constitutes 36% of the total releases inception under the Scheme.
Some of the important projects taken up during the last two years under this scheme are enumerated are: “Waithou - Pat Water Supply Scheme” has been approved for Thoubal district in Manipur at a total cost of Rs.59.71 crore. It is a composite scheme to supply 20.00 MLD of drinking water to 56 villages and 5 towns. In Tripura, Three important projects namely “Rokhia Gas based Thermal power project (unit VIII)”, “Government Medical College & Hospital” for intake of 100 students every year, and “State Level Para-Medical Institute at Agartala” have been sanctioned at a cost of Rs. 80.94 crore, Rs. 88.55 crore and Rs. 14.07 crore respectively. Rokhia Power Plant is to generate 21 MW of electricity, whereas the Para-Medical Institute will train around 200 technicians in different disciplines every year. In Assam a project for “Creation of Main Athletic Stadium Complex along with multi-purpose Indoor Hall at Guwahati” has been sanctioned for the National Games 2005 at total cost of Rs.55.10
It includes construction of Main Athletic Stadium, AC Indoor Stadium, Aquatic Complex and Shooting Range. 36 projects at total cost of Rs.400.85 crore for development of Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) areas in Assam. Four major road projects have been taken up at a total cost of Rs.105.54 crore in Nagaland. Thirteen Roads and Bridges projects costing Rs. 179.89 crore were sanctioned for Arunachal Pradesh during this period.
North Eastern Council (NEC)
The NEC has released, Rs. 959 crore have been provided to the North-Eastern States for implementation of development schemes.
To improve Air connectivity in the region, NEC provided Rs.35 crore per annum to Alliance Air for the operation of 4 ATR aircrafts. The frequency of flights improved from 74 to 141 and the seat availability from 7518 to 9617 per week from and into the Region. With the assistance of NEC, 7 airports in the region were upgraded and work on 3 others is in progress.
The NEC supported he construction of new Inter-State Bus Terminuses at Guwahati, Siichar and Aizawl. The work on these already been completed. Two Inter-State Truck Terminuses are also being funded.
Other major works supported by NEC include important roads and bridges, transmission lines, Loktak Lake Conservation project, employment oriented training programmes, e-governance support to the states and assistance to medical institutes for upgradation of facilities. 40 Timber bridges were converted into permanent bridges. Under the Telemedicine scheme, equipment has been installed at 11 sites and work at other 24 is in progress. For IT education 2 PCs per school have been provided to 122 schools.
The NEC has constituted NE Regional Educational Council for making education relevant to the needs of the region. It is launching three regional missions on Bamboo, Intemational E Trade and Horticulture so as to focus on growth sectors, which could catalyze the development process in the NER.
A Steering Committee on Security & Public order, headed by the Union Home Secretaiy has been constituted to address security and border related issues. To better five stations have been established to collect earthquake related information with the help of the NE Space Application Centre at Shillong.
International Cooperation for NER
During the period, the Ministry has taken a major initiative to mobilize external aid for the development of the North-Eastern Region, especially in four sectors, State Roads Project, Urban Development Project, Trade & Investment Creation Initiative in association with the Asian Development Bank and the study on “Natural Resources, Water & Environment Nexus for Development and Growth in North East India”. This initiative will enhance resource-flow to the Region and is expected to lead to institutional reforms and introduce modern project management practices. Capacity building in the concerned sectors will be taken up.
Indian institute of Management for the NER
The North Eastern region did not have adequate facilities for higher education, particularly in technical and managerial fields. To address this situation, a major decision has been taken by the Central Government to establish an Indian Institute of Management (IIM) at Shillong with support from the Ministry of DoNER. The Institute will cater to the need of the talented youth of the NER for cutting-edge managerial education. It would also help inculcating and promoting modern management techniques in the NER, both in the Government and Private sectors.
Rajiv Gandhi Girls Hostel at Delhi University
Increasing number of students from the NER attend institutes of higher education in Delhi and other cities. They, particularly girl students, face considerable hardship in finding proper and affordable accommodation at these places. The Ministry of Tribal Affairs in coilaboration with the Ministry of DoNER, has decided to establish a 500-seat girls hostel for the students of the NER in Delhi University. The NEC will be bearing 60 per cent of the cost of construction while the rest will be contributed by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. The foundation stone for the hostel, named after Late Shri Rajiv Gandhi, was laid on 06.01.06.
Capacity Building Programmes
In order to improve the delivery of services and to enhance the employability of the youth of North Eastern Region, long term arrangements for skill upgradation and training have been established with the Centres of Excellence, namely, IIM Calcutta, DGET, New Delhi, IIT Guwahati, Central Institute of Plastic Engineering and Technology (CSPET) Chennai, National institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) Kolkata, Toy Making Institute Kolkata and The Energy and Research Institute (TERI), New Delhi. A significant programme for training in Information Technology has also been taken up. The training programmes have started yielding results in terms of employment of the youths.
A major programme has been launched for building up entrepreneurship through the Ministry’s Enterprises North Eastern Development Financial Corporation (NEDFi) and North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation (NERAMAC). It is proposed to take advantage of the strengths of the Region in Horticulture and handlooms & handicrafts. The programme will help a large number of small individual entrepreneurs and self help groups attain self-reliance.
The NER has considerable potential for becoming an integral and significant player in the “Look East policy” of the Central Government due to its proximity with the Southeast Asian countries. The Ministry has also provided assistance to the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts for carrying out a study on the sociological impact of the opening up and consequent increased trade and cultural interaction.
Advocacy & Showcasing of the NER
To showcase the potential and strengths of the Region a number of important events and exhibitions in diverse areas such as trade, investment, tourism, handlooms & handicrafts and agriculture have been supported and organized. Major exhibitions have been organized in Delhi, Kolkata and Guwahati which have provided the much needed domestic and international exposure to the unique products of the NER apart from significant sales. During the current year, arrangements are being made to have exhibitions in other major cities like Mumbai, Banglore, Hyderabad and Chennai.
Assistance has also been provided to the PSUs including NERAMAC and North Eastern Handloom & Handicrafts Development Corporation (NEHHDC) for upgrading and expanding their showcasing arm for marketing of the NE horticulture products and crafts.
The Ministry has collaborated with the J. C. Bose Science Talent Search programme for incalculating and promoting scientific temper among the students of the Region.
A newsletter DDONER Newsline” was launched on 18 June, 2004 to focus on the development initiatives of the Ministry in the NER besides highlighting efforts of other Ministries of the Government of India in this regard. It also provides information on important events in the Region.
Support for Industrial Development in the NER
The North East Development Financial Corporation (NEDFC), an institute under the control of the Ministry, has been provided interest free loan for assisting industrial development in the Region. During the last two there were significant improvements in the performance of NEDFC. During this period 523 units were assisted with a disbursement of Rs. 156.65 crore apart from supporting a large number of SHGs. The total employment generated as a result was about 96000.The NEC, under its scheme for promotion of Industries in the North Eastern Region (SPINE), has also supported 41 units during 2005-2006.
Allocation by Cantral Ministries for the NER
There has bean a significant increase in the allocation and expenditure of various Central Ministries/Departments for the North Eastern Region during the last two years. The allocation during 2006-07 has been kept at Rs. 12,621 crore, an increase of about 86 per cent over Rs. 6787 crore allocated during 2004-05.
A new project monitoring programme has been developed with the technical assistance of the National informatics Centre (NIC) for monitoring of projects taken up under Non Lapssbie Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR), to monitor various aspects of the projects under NLCPR. Similar mechanism is being established for monitoring the of North Eastern Council (NEC).
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