R Dutta Choudhury
GUWAHATI, Jan 28: The Assam Government is of the view that the North Eastern Council (NEC) should take up multi-state impact projects in the State as investments in Assam will benefit the other states of the region.
As per the guidelines of the NEC, 20 per cent of its funds are allocated to Assam as “normative allocation”. Accordingly, the NEC allocated Rs 52.66 crore as normative allocation to Assam for the year 2020-21. But there was no allocation for new projects during 2018-19 and 2019-20 from the NEC.
Minister for Industries and Commerce, Chandra Mohan Patowary said that the allocation from the NEC is quite inadequate to address the hopes and aspirations of the people of the region. He said that the normative allocation for Assam should be enhanced substantially considering the fact that the State covers 30 per cent of the geographical area of the region and 68 per cent of total population of the entire North East.
The NEC schemes have now become Central sector schemes with 100 per cent funding by Government of India. However, the ongoing schemes are going on with the existing funding pattern of 90:10. The Ministry of DoNER has asked the State governments to complete all the ongoing projects by March this year and to submit proposals for release of funds. The Ministry also said that no fund would be released for ongoing projects after March this year. However, the State Government is of the view that the time for completion of the ongoing projects should be extended as works were seriously affected by COVID 19 pandemic and it would not be possible to complete all the projects within the stipulated time frame.
The Assam Government is also of the view that the NEC should provide assistance to all the states of the region to go for bamboo cultivation in a big way. Work on setting up of the country’s first bio fuel refinery has started and it would require around five lakh metric tonne of bamboo annually. Under the restructured National Bamboo Mission, the State Bamboo Development Agency has started bamboo cultivation in 585 hectares of farmers’ land involving more than 600 farmers. The State Government has also notified the Assam Bamboo and Cane Policy, 2019, which focused on plantation and value addition of bamboo in the form of distribution of free bamboo saplings, 50 per cent capital investment subsidy, etc. But there is need for encouraging bamboo plantation in all the states of the region to meet the demand of the bio fuel refinery.