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‘NEC should act as think tank and voice of Northeast’

Our Correspondent

Itagar, January 2: Aruchal Pradesh Governor Lt. Gen (Retd) Nirbhay Sharma today emphasized on the role of North East Council (NEC) as a facilitator in preparing project reports and to take lead in suggesting pioneering ideas and proposals.

“NEC has to be the ‘think tank’ and voice for the region. It should be a strategic planning institute of fincial magement, monitoring authority and guide the policy makers,” the governor said while addressing its 63rd plery at Shillong, a Raj Bhawan communiqué said.

“With its parent body, the DoNER which has central ministries 10 per cent of their annual plan budget earmarked for the North Eastern Region to address the development deficit, the issue of fund paucity for the region must be resolved and the fund must be made available for the region,” he said.

The council must act as resource centre for the state governments. It should monitor the planning process, resource allocation strategies and effectiveness of resource utilization, he stressed.

Sharma accentuated that the region required a systematic and balanced pace of development in each of its state. He stressed for trans–Brahmaputra connectivity and need based locating and shifting of certain administrative headquarters of the Centre north of River Brahmaputra.

The governor said that for peace, security and prosperity, development is a prerequisite. It cannot be other way around and NEC has a paramount role to play in it. He urged the members to prepare themselves for the bigger picture and be contributors and main stakeholders of the Prime Minister’s ‘Act East’ and ‘Made India’ crusades.

He said that in these crusades, the North East has to be an economic powerhouse influencing South East Asia in general and countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan and Myanmar and not just a transit route.

The governor also highlighted the constraints and bottlenecks of his state in its path towards development and progress. He said that lack of connectivity is the biggest hurdle to the development in the region and it is holding up unlocking of the vast economic potential of the region.

He said that the immediate requirement of the state was construction and up–gradation of roads involving 5,000 kms which included the Trans–Aruchal Highway, district connectivity roads, Indo–Chi Border roads and some other link–roads.

“These are to be constructed by the BRO, state PWD and Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. As of now, out of 1575 km, only 200 kms of Trans Aruchal Highway is complete,” he pointed out.

Expressing his concern on the pace of road construction, the governor emphasised on drastically cutting down of timeframe and achieve the target by 2025. He suggested that in order to achieve the target, capacity constraints in terms of engineering equipments, construction materials, skilled and non skilled manpower have to be enhanced many fold to global standards.

Streamlining of procedures and processes of clearances and award of contracts based on the best intertiol practices has to be brought in. Encouraging local entrepreneurs and focus on R & D will also be needed, he said.

Stating that the railway line connecting the state Capital with the rest of the country was ready to be operatiolized, the governor stressed that Rajdhani Express service must be started soon between harlagun and Delhi.

Further, he said that the work on other strategic lines to Tawang in the west and Pasighat in the east in Aruchal Pradesh was yet to be kicked off.

“The progress of Bogibeel Bridge must be monitored to ensure that it meets the revised timeline of mid 2017. Its completion will not only fill the strategic void in Trans–Brahmaputra movement, but be a major factor in the socio–economic development of this region,” he pointed out.

Reiterating that until the time the airport projects in the state were commissioned, reliable air service from fully developed Airport at Lilabari must be made operatiol on highest priority.

“This air connectivity at Lilabari must have fixed scheduled and preferably a direct flight from Delhi–Guwahati–Kolkata–Lilabari and back would most ideally suit the requirement,” he said.

While welcoming the NEC’s memorandum of understanding with Alliance Air, the Governor emphasised for use of bigger aircrafts with direct flight scheduled from Lilabari to Delhi and Delhi to Lilabari either via Kolkata or Guwahati.

Informing that there are eight Advance Landing Grounds (ALGs) coming up in the border districts of the state, the governor said that the concerned agencies be advised to expedite work in a time bound manner.

“It is imperative that the infrastructure so created is utilized not only for defence purpose and carriage of civil passengers and goods, but utilized for ferrying construction materials for infrastructure development as well,” he said and suggested that aircraft services be planned simultaneously to avoid any delay in starting the service.

Highlighting that Aruchal Pradesh has a long intertiol boundary with Bhutan, Chi and Myanmar and the people of the state have trade relationship with the people across the border since ancient times, the governor called for  institutiolized of the trade practices for socio–economic upliftment of local populous and state and country as a whole.

Stating that at Pangsau Pass near mpong in the eastern part of the state, a land custom station was iugurated in 1997, but it has practically been lying dysfunctiol for these years. He said that as it can serve as gateway to other rich South East Asian tions and be a part of Kolkata–Kunming initiative, NEC must take up the issue with the Ministry of Exterl Affairs and find out modalities for providing access to the intertiol neighbours in a regulated manner.

He said that in order to harness the mega hydro–power potential of the state the impasse due to environmental and social issues has to be broken in a balanced manner. He said that projects which are built ‘run of the stream’ need to be liberally and expeditiously looked into.

Focusing on social sectors, the governor urged upon the NEC for special focus on quality education, career guidance, entrepreneurship programmes on skill development and job oriented education for the youth of the state. He also called for quality education through investment in teachers’ training and evaluation.

Sharma said that the state and district hospitals need up–gradation with NEC and DoNER’s support, he suggested that NEC help in establishing a medical college, a regiol one, in Aruchal Pradesh in the line of Regiol Institute of Medical Science, Imphal, which was established and being funded by the NEC.

Strongly advocating Public Private Partnership in social sectors, the governor said that it is imperative that private sector must be involved in Health and Education sectors in association with central and state governments.

The Governor said that NEC can help in storage and marketing initiatives by creating corpus fund for State Agriculture Marketing Board for market intervention and market infrastructure assets maintence, setting up of rural godowns, cold chain facilities and retail outlets, providing transportation facilities for movement of farm produce and fixing Minimum Support Price for marketable commodities.

Calling for reintroduction of the Northeast Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy 2007, the Governor said that NIIPP has played an important role in the development of the region, however the target could not be realized due to slow pace of the infrastructure development in the region.

He said that it is vital that it quickly reintroduced with special focus on adequate availability of power, land, labour, water supply and security.

The governor stressed on the need for enhancement of coverage of telecommunication networks like AIR and DD in Aruchal Pradesh.

He underscored that it is important that for reaching every corner of the State, specially the border belt, the DTH sets be made available immediately to the border area, may be free of cost which may not involve funding more than 2–3 crore.

The Chairman of the NEC Union Minister DoNER Dr Jitendra Singh, the governors and chief ministers of North–eastern states, members of NEC, and senior officers from the Centre attended the plery, the communiqué added.

About the author

Ankur Kalita

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