States want more funds, better connectivity at NEC meeting
In the 66th plenary of North Eastern Council (NEC), the states of the region pitched for more liberal grant of resources and better connectivity both in rail and air.
While at the meeting, Nagaland chief minister Shurhozelie Liezietsu said, "There is a gap between the demand of NE states and the resources provided by the Centre." Adding further, Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar said, "All schemes should be more decentralised and opinions from the states should be welcomed."
The plenary was attended by all CMs and Governors of the North- Eastern states except Sikkim. It was chaired here at the Pravasi Bharti Bhavan by Chairman, North Eastern Council (NEC) and Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh on Monday. On behalf of the Assam Chief Minister Sarnanda Sonowal, the Finance Minister of the state Himanta Biswa Sarma attended the meeting.
While addressing on the occasion, the MoS said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the last plenary meeting at Shillong in May, 2016 and set in motion a new development agenda for the North Eastern Region.
He also added that, "We are all committed to implementing the Prime Minister's vision for the North East."
However, diverging from the Centre's views CMs of Nagaland and Tripura asked the MoS to allocate more funds for developmental projects. They also mentioned that, "A major portion of the budget goes for the outstanding liabilities and a very little portion is left for new projects. So, we need more funds." The CMs of bordering states like Assam, Tripura, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland also urged for more budget and infrastructure in border security.
But the MoS for DoNER said that Chief Ministers can ask for more funds for their states. Adding more, he mentioned, "In spite of more demand, the Centre can only release the money decided by both NITI Ayog and the Finance Ministry." Total amount of Rs 925 crore has been allotted for NEC through DoNER in 2017-18 budgets.
Apart from more resources and funds, the Tripura CM Manik Sarkar also urged the Centre to increase the railway connectivity in the north east part of the country, including through Bangladesh and Myanmar, for the region's development.
Along with the Nagaland CM Shurhozelie Liezietsu, Sarkar also demanded for direct flight service from New Delhi to the region. They also demanded for financial power to the NEC secretary.