NE states ask for higher allocation of funds for development
New Delhi: Northeastern states on Thursday strongly pitched for higher allocation of central funds for various developments projects, saying additional resources would accelerate growth and improve infrastructure in the remote region.
Addressing the 57th meeting of the National Development Council, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said success depends not merely on introduction of new schemes but consistent emphasis on better implementation, institution strengthening, lesser wastage of resources and attitudinal change.
"Apart from the continuation of the flagship programmes, there should be a 'Flexible Fund' with at least 50 percent of the total amount allocated as additional central assistance for various central schemes.
"This will allow states to tailor the implementation patterns as per local needs," he said.
In his address, Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar criticised the Centre's Direct Cash Transfer scheme in lieu of subsidies saying it "conforms to the World Bank's prescription" and will add to the miseries of the poor people.
Justifying his argument, Sarkar said "even though the government has on occasions assured that cash payments would be indexed to prices, there will necessarily be lags in revising the magnitude of payments."
Accusing the Centre of not providing adequate support to the agriculture sector, he also criticised the decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail. He said opening up of stores by multinational retail giants will affect livelihood of the millions of small traders and peasants.
Sarkar said the per capita calorie intake in the country has been decreasing and said the Planning Commission's argument that the decline in foodgrain intake and the associated decline in calorie intake was because of change in taste among people, cannot be accepted.
Talking about the North Eastern states, Sarkar said "highest priority" must be accorded to improve infrastructure in the region.
Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling said his government has set a long term vision to achieve comprehensive development during the 12th five year plan on two cardinal premises -- sustain and further consolidate the growth momentum and introduce more development avenues.
"I wish to flag the urgent need to provide more infrastructure and reliable physical connectivity to ensure socio-economic development of Sikkim in particularly and the Northeastern region as a whole during the 12th five year plan period," he said.
In his address, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Nabam Tuki said the state needed financial resources to the extent of almost Rs 13,000 crore for implementing joint venture power projects along with private operators or PSUs.
"I would urge the national government to provide us this funding in a phased manner over a period of next eight to ten years," he said.
Speaking on the occasion, Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma supported the proposal for increasing outlays under the Backward Region Grant Fund and Border Areas Development Fund saying these programmes would help the North Eastern region to a great extent.
"The North East in general and Meghalaya in particular have suffered due to an infrastructure deficit. We appreciate the proposals outlined in the 12th Plan document for reducing the deficit," he said.
Demanding better transport connectivity in the region, Sangma said the Centre must take concrete measures to improve infrastructure in the North Eastern states.