The first meeting of the ‘Niti Forum for North-East’ (NFNE) on Tuesday chosen five sectors including tourism and food processing to exploit them on mission mode basis to accelerate inclusive and sustainable economic growth of the region, said NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar.
Union Minister for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Jitendra Singh, in a significant announcement, also said that henceforth 100 per cent funding would be made by the Central government for central sector projects in the eight northeastern states, which were earlier being undertaken on the basis of centre-state sharing in the ratio of 90 :10.
“In the first meeting, NFNE has identified five sectors to exploit them on mission mode basis to speed up inclusive and sustainable economic growth of the northeastern region,” Rajiv Kumar told the media after the meeting.
The other sectors are bamboo, horticulture and ‘Made in Northeast’.
Rajiv Kumar said that the focus of development and infrastructural projects in the northeastern region would be based on the concept of “HIRA” — Highways, Inland Waterways, Railways and Airways as conceptualised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The NITI Aayog Vice Chairman and DoNER Minister are Co-Chairmen of the NFNE constituted last month following Modi’s direction to supplement the functioning of the DoNER ministry and North Eastern Council (NEC).
On the new funding pattern for central sector projects, Jitendra Singh said that this will only be applicable to the eight northeastern states, unlike the earlier 90:10 funding pattern which was in force for 11 special category states – which also included Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand.
He said the infrastructure of the northeastern region, which had been neglected for 65 years, had got a boost under the NDA government, with utilisation of funds increasing to Rs 30,000 crore in the last financial year from Rs 24,000 crore in 2014-15 fiscal.
Singh said that for the development of highways and roadways and tourism sectors, two separate corporations were formed and to boost the industrialisation of the region, the “North East Industrial Development Scheme” was finalised last month by the union cabinet with the financial outlay of Rs 3000 crores up to March, 2020.
He said that under the UDAN phase two and phase three, all the northeastern states would be connected by airways and the region’s connectivities with the neighbouring countries would be further developed.
Chief Ministers, Deputy Chief Ministers, Planning and Coordination, PWD Ministers of Tripura, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Assam and top officials of all the eight northeastern states and various Central ministries attended the day-long NFNE meeting.
Rajiv Kumar said that 14 districts of eight northeastern states among the 115 most backward districts across the country and dubbed as “aspirational” districts, identified to accelerate the all-round development.
Of the 14 districts, seven are in Assam and one each in remaining seven states – Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Sikkim.