SHILLONG, July 10 - The 67th plenary of the North Eastern Council (NEC) has ended on a bitter note here today as it brought to the fore the opposing views of the member States on dilution of the Council�s functional autonomy.
Speaking to The Assam Tribune on condition of anonymity, a senior NEC official said that the Centre is acting arbitrarily and has removed six sectors from the NEC. Instead, the Centre has offered a lump sum package of Rs 4,500 crore for the NEC for years from 2017-18 to 2019-20.
The Centre has done away with six sectors (departments) of the NEC in December last year, including infrastructure development, sports, irrigation, power, roads and others. The Chief Ministers of BJP-ruled States have kept silent on the issue, as did Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma, an ally of the NDA government, the official said.
�Had there been Manik Sarkar or SC Jamir there would have been a hue and cry by now. Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal, representing the largest State in terms of population, was also silent. Other CMs too kept quiet, except Mizoram CM Lal Thanhawla,� he added.
Only Congress CM from Mizoram Lal Thanhawla has shot off a letter to the Prime Minister requesting him not to dilute the functional autonomy of the NEC, which was granted by an Act of the Parliament.
In his letter to the Prime Minister, Lal Thanhawla said: �The plenary council is considered to be the highest decision making authority of the NEC. However, I am very sorry to learn that the decision on the new NEC schemes approved by the Union Cabinet on 28th March, 2018 bypassed the plenary council.�
He further said that the Rs 4,500 crore earmarked for the NEC for years 2017-18 to 2019-20 is meager for the region�s development. The earmarked fund involves Rs 2,357 crore for committed liabilities of ongoing projects, Rs 1,000 crore for North East Road Sector Development Scheme and Rs 640 crore for Non-Lapsable Central Pool of Resources liabilities.
�There is no fund for new projects during the new scheme period. It�s highly doubtful that the Northeast region can be the �engine of growth� with such a meager investment from the Centre,� the Mizoram said in his letter to the PM sent last Sunday.
During the 67th plenary the issue of doing away with the six sectors from the NEC was not taken up although some raised it meekly. Home Minister Rajnath Singh has assured that a meeting would be held this month again to sort out issues and that was it.
The media was barred from covering the plenary and was held in a hushed manner in a small room at the State Convention Centre instead of using the large auditorium available at the Centre.
�The plenary is not a forum for post mortem of decisions taken by the Centre. It is a collective body of the Centre and the States for decision making, but sadly this time it was a mockery,� the NEC official stated.