Terming 2017 as a watershed year for North-Eastern Region, DoNER Minister Dr Jitendra Singh on Friday has said that it not only witnessed some of the landmark developmental initiatives, but will also go down in the history as a year when the Union Government took some decisions which had been pending for decades together.
Dr Singh said the 90-year-old “Indian Forest Act of 1927”, which was a legacy of the British Raj, was amended through a decision of the Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as a result of which “Bamboo”, which was defined as a “Tree” under the Indian Forest Act of 1927, was changed, thereby doing away with the requirement of obtaining a permit for felling of bamboo for economic use.
This, he said, is going to be a game-changer for generations to come, by opening new avenues of job generation and entrepreneurship by allowing bamboo cultivation and bamboo use by non-farmers on non-forest land.
Another historic decision, which is the first of its kind in independent India, relates to cent per cent funding by Central Government for projects in the NER, which were earlier being undertaken on the basis of Centre-State sharing in the ratio of 90:10, he added.
In 2017 itself, Dr Jitendra Singh recalled, the North-Eastern Region set an example for the rest of India by being the first to introduce “Venture Capital Fund” from the Ministry of Development of North-Eastern Region (DoNER) for young start-ups and entrepreneurs who choose to invest in the region.
Among the other “firsts” introduced in the North-East during this year, Dr Singh mentioned India’s first-ever experiment to have a helicopter-based “Air Dispensary” to carry out OPD health services in remote and inaccessible parts of the region.
Similarly, the work on new rail link to Bangladesh also began with the rail track being laid from Agartala and being funded up to Akhaura by the Ministry of DoNER.
For the convenience of Northeast students studying in other parts of the country, construction of an exclusive hostel in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus at New Delhi began in this year, while a piece of land measuring 5341.75 sq. meters (1.32 acre) was obtained from Delhi Development Authority at the prime location of Dwarka, New Delhi for the purpose of constructing a Northeast International Cultural and Information Centre.