Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday suggested the need to have a forum to discuss inter-State security related issues such as boundary disputes, drug trafficking, smuggling of arms and ammunition and common approaches for tackling terrorism and militancy.
Singh, who is the ex-officio chairman of the North Eastern Council, chaired the two-day 67thplenary of the NEC at the State Convention Centre in Shillong on arriving from New Delhi.
This is the first time that Singh chaired the NEC’s plenary, after becoming chairman of the NEC. Earlier, Union minister for Development of North Eastern Region was the chairman of the NEC, and now as vice-chairman.
Reminding about the existence of a Zonal Council prior to the creation of the NEC, Singh said, Assam, Manipur, Tripura and Meghalaya that were part of the Eastern Zonal Council were deleted from the purview of the Council, which led to absence of such forum to discuss inter-state internal security related issues.
“It is felt that there is a need for such a forum to address inter-state internal security related issues including boundary disputes, narcotics and arms trafficking, common approaches for tackling terrorism, and militancy. While the Ministry of DoNER is focussing on its coordination role in development matters, the Ministry of home affairs is primarily focussed upon security related issues. The NEC, having the governors and chief ministers of the North Eastern states as its members, can provide a common forum for discussing the two aspects in a comprehensive manner in the presence of top functionaries of the two Union ministries,” Singh suggested.
Singh also said that the Union government was taking keen interest in developing the region not only for it to self sustain, but also to act as a link with South East Asian countries, and the Act East Policy has placed emphasis on India ASEAN cooperation in sectors such as infrastructure, manufacturing, trade, skills, urban renewal, smart cities and make in India.
Pointing out that the region suffers from lack of adequate corporate funding, Singh said that keeping in mind the low industrial base of the region, the Union cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister had in March this year, approved the North East Industrial Development Scheme (NEIDS), 2017 with a financial outlay of Rs. 3,000 crore up to March, 2020.
“I am hopeful that this newly introduced scheme will promote industrialization in states of the Northeast and will boost employment and create source of income,” Singh said while urging state governments and chief ministers of the region to avail this opportunity and create a conducive environment for industrialization.
Singh also talked about the financial package of Rs 4,500 crore for three years from 2017-18 to 2019-2020 which was approved with a window for NEC to receive additional infusion of funds during 2018-19 depending on availability of resources, performance of the scheme and utilisation of funds.
The Union Home Minister also asked the NEC to ensure maximum utilisation of existing funds for completion of ongoing schemes in order to enable it to approach the ministry of finance for additional funds during 2018-19.
Stating that the participation of civil society and people at large is crucial in all development efforts, Singh said, “we should not be hesitant in constantly making course corrections to achieve more development for the region.”
Union Minister for DoNER, Jitendra Singh, Governors and Chief Ministers of States in the Northeast attended the plenary.