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Pema Khandu Bats For Changing Central funding criteria

Pema Khandu

Our Correspondent

Itanagar: Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu has urged that criteria of Central funding should not be based on population when it comes to North-Eastern States.

Speaking at the 68th Plenary of the North East Council (NEC) in Guwahati, Khandu said most developmental schemes of the Centre, whether in social sector or for creation of infrastructure, works are based on population criteria.

He said NE States have low demography but large geographical areas, a large part of which comprises remote, hostile and challenging terrain, an official communique informed here on Monday.

“Hence for a State like Arunachal Pradesh, the criteria for deciding quantum of funding under various Central sector schemes should not be based on population and must take into account special conditions of the State,” he stressed.

Arunachal Pradesh is prone to several natural disasters on account of heavy rainfall resulting in landslides, floods and other calamities which cause large scale destruction of houses, standing crops and other private property besides damage to infrastructure.

Khandu said the relief grants that the State receives from the Centre to mitigate the natural calamities is insufficient and needs to be revised substantially.

Citing connectivity as the major challenge for development, he said in Arunachal Pradesh around 700-800 rural habitations are still unconnected by road because they do not qualify for funding under PMGSY.

However, as people do reside in these habitations, he suggested that roads for such habitations could be taken up under NERSDS or Bharatmala. Or else, the eligibility criteria under PMGSY could be revised for States like Arunachal Pradesh, he said.

Khandu suggested that Lilabari Airport in North Lakhimpur district of Assam, the nearest airport to Itanagar, a daily flight from Delhi to Lilabari via Guwahati may be commenced at the earliest.

He informed that Arunachal Pradesh is perhaps the only State in Northeast deprived of externally aided projects from World Bank, ADB and JICA. This, he said, not only deprives the State of financial benefits but also of technical knowledge that comes with externally aided projects.

“There is a substantial deprivation of developmental loans/aid to the state which needs to be compensated through an alternative arrangement, preferably under NEC,” Khandu suggested.

While pointing that the 15th Finance Commission is about to make its recommendations to the Centre regarding the formula by which vertical and horizontal devolution of Central funds would be given to various states, Khandu informed that at present Arunachal Pradesh receives 1.37% of resources from the divisible pool.

He said this share needs to be revised very substantially keeping in view the strategic location of the state and several jointly shared developmental priorities of centre and state.

As the State Government has already constructed necessary infrastructure at Pangsau Pass in Changlang district for facilitation of border trade, the chief minister said the land customs station proposed need to be made operational with immediate effect.

Khandu said sufficient funds should be made available through NEC for development of sports infrastructure in NE states in general and Arunachal Pradesh in particular in the backdrop of special emphasis put in by the centeron sports through the Khelo India and Fit India programmes.

He requested DoNER Ministry to expand the outreach of NERCORMP in all border blocks across Arunachal Pradesh. He said NERCOMP has made appreciable impact in the three insurgency-affected and drug infested districts of Tirap, Changlang and Longding, therefore the same may be extended to other backward areas of the state, the communique added.

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