ITANAGAR/GUWAHATI, Sept 8 - Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Sunday said the criteria for Central funding should not be based on population when it comes to the North East, including his state Arunachal Pradesh.
Speaking at the 68th plenary session of the North Eastern Council (NEC) at Guwahati, Khandu said most developmental schemes of the Centre, whether in the social sector or for infrastructure, work is based on the population criteria. He said the Northeastern states have low demography but large geographical areas, a large part of which comprises remote, hostile and challenging terrain.
�Hence for a state like Arunachal Pradesh, the criteria for deciding quantum of funding under various Central sector schemes should not be based on population,� Khandu said, adding that the Centre �must take into account special conditions of the state�.
Citing connectivity as the major challenge for development, he said that in Arunachal Pradesh, around 700-800 rural habitations are still unconnected by road because they do not qualify for funding under PMGSY. However, as people do reside in these habitations, he suggested that roads for such habitations could be taken up under the North East Road Sector Development Scheme (NERSDS) or Bharat Mala. Or else, the eligibility criteria under PMGSY could be revised for states like Arunachal Pradesh.
Stating that the Hollongi Airport is expected to become operational by 2022, Khandu suggested that a daily flight may be started from Delhi to Lilabari via Guwahati. Lilabari Airport is in Assam�s Lakhimpur district and is the nearest airport from Itanagar.
He said Arunachal Pradesh was perhaps the only state in the North East deprived of externally aided projects from World Bank, ADB and JICA. This, he said, not only deprives the state of financial benefits but also of technical knowledge that comes with externally aided projects.
Pointing out that the 15th Finance Commission was about to make its recommendations to the Centre regarding the formula of funds to various states, Khandu said that at present, Arunachal receives 1.37 per cent of resources from the divisible pool. He said this share needs to be revised substantially.
He said the total amount of funds received by the state was around Rs 200 crore. However since 2018, no new schemes are being considered, which he said was adversely affecting developmental works in the state.