Arunachal Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein while attending the first meeting of the newly-formed ‘NITI Forum for North East’ in Agartala on Tuesday raised the issue of connectivity and said “connectivity has been the biggest constraint in the all-round development of the region”.
The meeting of the ‘NITI Forum for North East’ was held at the State Guest House in Agartala. The meeting was chaired by Dr Rajeev Kumar, Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog & Chairman NITI Forum for North East and co-chaired by DoNER Minister Dr Jitendra Singh.
Mein requested the NITI Forum to resolve the issues citing the ‘Panch Tatva’ as mentioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to boost the development in the region. The five elements ‘Panch Tatva’ cited by the Prime Minister were Railways, Highways, Airways, Waterways and Internet-ways which would boost the connectivity in the region.
Citing poor road connectivity in Arunachal Pradesh, Mein said that the road density of Arunachal Pradesh at 26 Km per 100 sq Km is one of the lowest in the whole country and said that roads are crucial for the success in Agriculture, Horticulture, Hydropower and Tourism sectors in the State.
He said, “Unless we can provide last mile connectivity to the farmers, how will they be able to transport the agricultural produce to mandis? Most of the orchards are located in the temperate highlands. The lack of last mile roads for the orchard growers makes it difficult to transport the fruit to the markets. Also, poor road is a major reason for poor market linkage in the State. Treacherous road conditions can create awful traveller experience and bad reviews for the State Tourism sector.”
Highlighting hydro-power potentials of the State, Mein said that State of Arunachal Pradesh has the highest hydro-power potential in the country and possesses 39 pc (58,160 MW) of the country’s hydro-power potential.
However, he informed that the government of Arunachal Pradesh had signed an MoU with Power companies for 40, 000 MW but only 475.11 MW has been harnessed so far which comes to only 0. 82 pc with the two more projects namely, Kameng HEP (600MW) and Pare HEP (110 MW) scheduled to be commissioned in April 2018 making it to total 1185.11 MW (2.04 pc).
Mein further divulged that out of 136 live projects allotted to various developers, most of them are struggling to come to implementation stage due to mandatory clearances involving many departments of state as well as Government of India.
He requested the Central government to provide the required support to the developers and the State as well while informing that the State Government is contemplating to issue termination notice to those developers who have not adhered to timelines as prescribed by the government of Arunachal Pradesh in MoA.
He stated that on successful termination the said project can be taken over by any of the PSU (NEEPCO, NHPC, SJVN etc.) for execution and some expert agencies may be engaged or would be decided by Union Ministry of Power.
Mein further put forward the proposal that the Ministry of Power may constitute an expert committee and arrive at the requisite amount of Viability Gap Fund which may be given to the developer either by the DoNER Ministry as in the case of Tuirial Hydroelectric Power Project in Mizoram or the said VGF may be provided by the Union Ministry of Power itself.
Mein also said that the NE region can become the fruit bowl of India if land resources are properly utilized by providing good quality seeds/seedlings/planting materials and technical know-how to the growers. He added that Arunachal Pradesh being a large state has the largest land resource and the land under agriculture use is still minimal. “We are yet to make the best use of our land resource and agriculture is the best way forward,” he said.
He advocated introduction of contract farming for spice crops like large cardamom and ginger, vegetables, etc. which can be an effective modality to double the farmer’s income. He also stressed on soil health card to know the profile of soil for success of agriculture in the region and requested the Mnistry of Agriculture to detail a consultant to help in implementing the e-NAM at the earliest in the State saying that eNAM will be crucial for reducing post harvest loss and in ensuring remunerative prices of the crops in the absence of proper market linkages for the farmers.
Mein also drew attention of the NITI Forum towards the restructuring of plan activities of Ministry of DoNER.