GUWAHATI, Feb 12 � The states of the North East region should jointly mount pressure on the Government of India for overall infrastructure development of the region, said Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar. He also said that the Department for Development of the North Eastern Region (DoNER) is yet to deliver to the desired extent.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, Sarkar expressed the view that though the states of the region are demanding development infrastructure individually, there is need for mounting pressure jointly. He said that the region has abundance of natural and human resources. What the region now needs is development of infrastructure on war footing for that, the Government of India would have to step up development activities in the region.
Sarkar pointed out that though the Central Government formed the North Eastern Council (NEC) as the regional planning body, the Council has not been provided the funds required for overall development of the region. He pointed out that considering the enormity and gravity of the backwardness of the region, there is need for pumping in huge amounts of funds, but that has not been done. He said that the Chief Ministers of the NEC member states discuss the backwardness of the region in the meetings of the Council, but there is need for mounting more pressure on the Centre.
The Tripura Chief Minister pointed out that during the tenure of the Deve Gowda Government, the Centre formed the Shukla Commission to study the problems of the region and to offer recommendations. The Shukla commission submitted a wonderful report with its recommendations, but the report is yet to be implemented, he lamented.
Sarkar said that during the tenure of the NDA Government at the Centre, a forum of the Chief Ministers of the North East states with the then Assam Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta as convenor for development was formed. The Forum submitted a charter of demands to the Centre highlighting the priority areas, but the Centre failed to act and the Forum is now practically non existent. He expressed the view that there is nothing wrong in reviving the Forum to put pressure on the Centre jointly for the overall development of the region and being the biggest State, Assam should take the lead in this regard.
The Tripura Chief Minister suggested that some sectors like road, rail and air connectivity, power, etc should be taken as priority areas for the development of the region and time bound programmes should be taken up. He pointed out that backward is considered to be one of the main reasons for growth of extremism in the region. Though the level of violence has come down in recent times, the reasons for extremism are yet to be addressed, which is unfortunate, he added.
On the activities of the DoNER, Sarkar said that the erstwhile Forum of Chief Ministers of NE states had demanded creation of a special cell in the office of the Prime Minister for the development of the region so that it can be monitored directly by the Prime Minister. He said that though the Government of India formed the DoNER to utilize the non lapsable pool of resources, the Department does not have the technical knowhow and the proposals from the State Governments are sent to different Ministries for approval, which delays the whole process.