Arunachal Pradesh CM Pema Khandu at Plenary of the North Eastern Council (NEC) in Guwahati on Sunday.

Chief minister Pema Khandu on Sunday urged that criteria of Central funding should not be based on population when it comes to Northeastern states like Arunachal Pradesh.

Speaking at the 68th Plenary of the North Eastern Council (NEC) in Guwahati, Khandu said most developmental schemes of the Govt of India, 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.

“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 Government of India 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.

“The Hollongi Airport is expected to become operational by 2022. Meanwhile, 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 suggested.

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.

Stressing that there is an urgent need for Government intervention to preserve and protect indigenous tribal culture and identity in its purest form, Khandu said tribal scripts, oral traditions and rituals need to be archived by professional ethnographers.

He said NEC can play a pivotal role by providing assistance by setting up heritage centers and museums and suggested DoNER and NEC to initiate a program on development of modified roman scripts of indigenous tribes of all the 8 Northeastern states in consultation with the concerned ministries.

He also pitched in for an airport at Tawang both for tourism and security reasons, as the district is strategically located and is a hot tourist destination.

DAMIEN LEPCHA

Damien Lepcha is Northeast Now Correspondent in Arunachal Pradesh. He can be reached at: lepcharaul@gmail.com

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