NE urged to make optimum use of natural resources
NEWMA will be fresh fruit squash in a new container'
SHILLONG: The newly formed 'North Eastern Water Management Authority' (NEWMA) is "not going to be old wine in new bottles; it will be fresh fruit squash in new containers," said NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Dr Rajeev Kumar during an online conversation organized by the 'Asian Confluence' as a part of its ongoing signature 'ASCON Conversations' series.
The conversation was held on the broader theme of 'India's North East: Development, Challenges and Strategies in the Post-COVID-19 Era' between Dr Rajiv Kumar and MP Bezbaruah, Chairman of the Governing Council of 'Asian Confluence' and former Member of the North Eastern Council (NEC).
Dr Kumar, in his address, focused on the various mechanisms and initiatives taken up by the NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India) to boost the economy of North East India and also about the steps taken to help this region come out much stronger from the present COVID-induced crisis period. He highlighted the formation of 'NITI Forum' to carry out reforms in five key areas, namely Tea, Tourism, Bamboo Economy, Fisheries and Dairy.
The Forum has suggested that the North East Region (NER) should follow the 'Sikkim model' to bring about higher value addition in agriculture crops. He also talked about the newly formed 'Joint Working Group of DoNER (The Department of Development of North Eastern Region) and NITI Aayog to push forward the initiatives in these five areas.
Referring to the 'North Eastern Water Management Authority' (NEWMA), he said it aims to harness water resources in environment and people-friendly manner and works towards mitigation of flood-related problems. Stating that water is in abundance in the North-East Region, he stressed the optimum utilization of these natural water resources in all sectors including agriculture, hydro-power and development of water-related entrepreneurship.
Dr. Kumar also said that the way forward to finance the infrastructure development and other projects will be through private companies and international and multilateral institutions. The joint-working group will work towards it, and also make the region attractive for private sector investment. The NITI Aayog has tried to set up special monitoring of the 'Sustainable Development Goals' (SDGs) for NER and suggested that the planned development of the north-eastern States should be converted into SDG-monitoring units which will help in achieving the 'SDGs-2030' targets for these States.
Participating in the discussion, Former Union Tourism Ministry secretary MP Bezbaruah said that amidst the gloomy economic situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, funding is a big problem for the north-eastern States while the region is heavily dependent on the other States of the country and Central assistance. He emphasised the need for regulatory reforms, private investment and good governance for implementation of the viable schemes and projects.
'Asian Confluence' Executive Director Sabyasachi Dutta said that his organisation has been holding a series of dialogues and interactions on the common theme for better use of the resources and better linkages with the neighbours of the region. The web event had active participation from various scholars, government officials and experts in the question-and-answer session, the release added.