North-East CMs object as Modi Govt bypasses them on NEC projects decision

Chief Ministers of north-eastern states are upset with the Central government’s decision to put on hold developmental projects sanctioned by North Eastern Council, bypassing the plenary council

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IANS

Chief Ministers of the northeastern states on Monday appealed to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to review the recent decision to put on hold developmental projects sanctioned by North Eastern Council (NEC), the regional planning body, to meet the development needs of the region.

"We welcome the proposal to reposition NEC into a conflict resolution, development planning and knowledge hub for the northeast and rolling out of new scheme for 2018-2020 is a welcome step, but such decision is expected to be determined by the plenary meeting of the NEC," Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla said, addressing the 67th plenary meeting of the NEC chaired by the Home Minister in Shillong, Meghalaya.

He expressed disappointment with the Central government's decision on the new NEC scheme, bypassing the plenary Council which is considered to be the highest decision-making authority for the NEC.

He said that ₹4,500 crore earmarked for the new NEC scheme for the whole northeastern region for 2017-18 to 2019-2020 is going to be too less to have a meaningful impact for the region's development.

"The earmarked funds include ₹2,357 crore for committed liabilities of ongoing projects, ₹1,000 crore for North Eastern Road Sector Development Scheme (NERSDS), and ₹640 crore for NLCPR liabilities. However there is no fund left for new projects during the new scheme. It is highly doubtful that the region can be made an engine of growth with such a meager investment from the Centre," Thanhawla said

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said the recent decision of the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) and the NEC will have a dampening effect on the socio-economic development of the region. "This decision of the DoNER ministry and the NEC led to a sense of disquiet among the northeastern states and has disheartened the state government departments who have spent considerable time, effort and money in the preparation of Detailed Project Reports for these projects."

“In the spirit of federal structure, any important decision on change of approach and guidelines must be taken at the plenary session of the NEC. Therefore, pending any further decision which should be decided in the plenary session for any modification of guidelines or change approach," Sangma said urging the ministry of DoNER and the NEC to review the recent decisions and to continue providing financial assistance to the developmental programmes of the state as has been done in the past.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma: “This decision of the DoNER ministry and the NEC led to a sense of disquiet among the northeastern states”

Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio said the decision of the Expenditure Finance Committee to put on hold all the new projects sanctioned from April 2017 onwards may not prove beneficial in the long run since the north-eastern states, particularly Nagaland, with meagre resources, look to the NEC and DoNER to come to supplement their resources to implement important projects and programs.

"The projects sanctioned during 2017-18 were meticulously selected by the State as priority and were also retained and sanctioned by NEC after thorough scrutiny... If the projects are to be put on hold, it will eventually lead to cost escalation which is not admissible under NEC guidelines. Further, it may attract litigation from various quarters," he said.

Echoing his counterparts, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu urged Rajnath Singh to sort out the matter, noting that abrupt termination of these projects may invite legal complications.

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has suggested that NEC should release funds in two installments in a lump sum for a year instead of scheme-wise release.

Inputs by NH Web Desk

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