Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on Monday apprised Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh at the 67th Plenary Session of the North Eastern Council (NEC) of the decline in NEC’s budget allocation for development programmes and delay in project implementation.
“Without suitable financial backing from the NEC, it will be difficult for the N.E States to reach the desired levels of growth and development as envisioned in the NER vision 2020,” the Meghalaya CM said, while requesting the Government of India to review the fund allocation to the NEC by raising the annual budget size to at least 2000 cr.
Terming that increase in budget allocation will fulfil the mandate for ensuring sustainable growth and development in Northeast, he urged the Centre to ensure flexibility in the implementation of Northeast Special Infrastructure Development Scheme (NESIDS).
Apprising Singh on the NEC schemes sanctioned for 2017-18 which are yet to be approved, he said, “The delay in the approval of the schemes is hampering developmental projects. All the Chief Ministers of Northeast are here and I would like to inform that there are communication gap between NEC and Ministry of DoNER. Even if the guideline is pending let it be prospective and without any delay the scheme should be rolled out.”
“In the spirit of the 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 approached, I would urge upon the Ministry of DoNER and the NEC to review their recent decisions and to continue providing financial assistance to the developmental programmes of the States, as has been done in the past,” the Meghalaya CM asserted.
On 2022 National Games, the Chief Minister sought for additional infrastructure to enable the State government to host the event successfully. “The fund requirement for the creation of the stadia, games village, etc is estimated to be about 1500 cr. The State government has put forward a request to the GoI for a special grant for this purpose which may be routed through the Ministry of DoNER and the NEC,” the Chief Minister urged.
Talking about improving airport connectivity in Meghalaya in view of the upcoming National Games, the Chief Minister apprised the Union Minister on the challenge to cut the mountain to increase the runway, which involves huge financial implication. He requested the Centre to consider the proposal for budget from the State and ensure that the existing Shillong airport at Umroi is made fully functional for larger aircrafts.
He also sought for centre’s intervention if help can be accorded to start the Baljek airport in Garo Hills.
On Act East Policy, the Chief Minister said that there is a need for international air connectivity between North Eastern States with Yangoon, Naypyidaw, Bangkok and other South East Asian cities for promotion of trade and tourism.
“Special Economic Corridors and Special Economic Zones need to be developed with focus on export and also to meet the domestic demands of the region. Our main focus should be on processing units in agricultural and allied produces which can also generate employment. NEC should be mandated to take up this issue with the GoI on behalf of the NE States.”
He also apprised the Union Minister for starting rotational meetings amongst all the North Eastern States every six months to discuss common issues and agenda to improve cultural, trade and business relation with ASEAN countries.
He also mooted an idea that all Chief Ministers of North East should travel together to understand business and trade potentials with ASEAN countries.
He also requested the centre to provide additional allocation of funds to address the challenge of climate change, mitigation and adaptation in North East.