AGARTALA, April 10 - Reiterating Prime Minister Narendra Modi�s top priority to the North Eastern region, Union Minister of State for DoNER Jitendra Singh today said fund utilisation in the NE States has increased by 21 per cent during the last four years.
Singh said that the NE would continue to receive top priority in terms of funding for different schemes. A 100 per cent funding pattern, which was earlier 90:10, will be implemented in the NE region as the Prime Minister calls the eight States �Asthalakshmi, the minister said, adding that this would be a major shot in the arm for the region�s governments as far as implementation of various development work is concerned.
What could not be done during 65 years has been made possible in the past four years in terms of utilisation of Central funds in the NE States, Singh told media persons after the first meeting of the NITI Forum for the NE here.
�We have put all the highway projects on the fast track. The Centre has accorded top priority to improving connectivity, leading to BG train services in most States of the NE region,� he said.
Singh laid emphasis on inter-regional connectivity instead of regional connectivity so that people of the region could move from one place to another without any hassles.
Revealing that a special welfare fund for connectivity would be put into place shortly, Singh, who is also the MoS of the Prime Minister�s Office (PMO), said there would be an NE tourism development authority to tap the region�s potential.
NITI Aayog vice chairperson Rajiv Kumar said Tuesday�s meeting focused on five missions including tourism, Make in NE and bamboo. �The meeting also resolved to give a thrust to speedy infrastructure building and improvement in connectivity,� he said.
Chief Ministers Conrad Sangma of Meghalaya, Neiphiu Rio of Nagaland and Biplab Kumar Deb of Tripura, representatives of the five other NE States and top officials were present in the first brainstorming session of the NITI Forum for the NE, a sub-forum of NITI Aayog.
PTI adds: The NITI Forum for North East today outlined five development missions for promoting sectors like horticulture, tourism and food processing in the region, NITI Aayog vice chairman Rajiv Kumar said here today.
Other missions will cover bamboo-based handicraft and medium-scale industries with focus on Make in North East, he said. Kumar stressed it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi�s vision to establish a regional NITI Aayog forum for the North Eastern States.
In his address, DoNER Minister Jitendra Singh said that the Government has already initiated talks with a private airline for connecting Agartala with Dhaka and Chittagong.
He also underlined the need for completion of the 15-km-long Agartala-Akhaura rail link for improving connectivity of the North East with Bangladesh.
The meeting also discussed the need to complete the bridge on the river Feni in Sabroomn which connects Chittagong and Tripura, he added.
After completion of the bridge on the river Feni at Sabroom in South Tripura district, broad gauge railway track would be extended to Chittagong port, and Tripura would act as the gateway to the North East, the minister said.