GUWAHATI, May 31 � The State Government has called upon the Centre to retain the Special Category State status for the States of the North East.
In a memorandum to Jitendra Singh, Minister of State (Independent Charge) in the Ministry for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said that all the eight NE States have been categorised as Special Category States due to various factors, including economic backwardness, poor infrastructure compounded by annual floods and erosion, hilly and difficult terrain, isolated geographic location, extensive exposure to international borders, and so on.
�In this context, it is strongly urged to retain the categorisation of the States of this region as Special Category States and request for continuance of Central assistance for all development activities on the earlier 90:10 grant to loan basis. There should be no change in this format as is being envisaged. All the Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) should also continue to be funded on this basis,� stated the memorandum.
Gogoi said that the incentives provided in the North East Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy (NEIIPP) still remains suspended, impeding industrial growth and job creation.
�Not only should NEIIPP be restored and effectively implemented, incentives should be given to the Agriculture and Allied sector, which has tremendous potential of generating jobs and wealth,� he said in the memorandum.
The Chief Minister said that the annual cycle of floods causes huge damage to the infrastructure in Assam.
�The ordinary maintenance expenditure cannot restore the damage. This needs to be accounted for in the development assistance for the State. Flood and erosion problems faced by Assam need to be tackled in coordination with all the North Eastern States as the water catchment area covers the entire Brahmaputra and Barak basins. This requires much more inter-State cooperation and we request the Ministry of DoNER to take the lead in this,� Gogoi said in the memorandum submitted to Singh.
The memorandum stated that a large pool of assets has been created under North East Council/Non Lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NEC/NLCPR) funding but there is a problem of maintenance.
�It is extremely difficult for this revenue-poor State to maintain these assets. Presently, the practice is to immediately transfer the project to State Governments which find it difficult to make immediate provision for maintenance. The Ministry of DoNER/NEC should provide the provision of five-year maintenance fund to each scheme. This provision will provide necessary cushion to the State Government to take over the project gradually,� Gogoi said in the memorandum.
He added, �My view is that the Ministry of DoNER should ensure flow of adequate shares of NEC and NLCPR fund to Assam due to the impact on all the other States. Further, projects having direct multi-State outcomes should be given higher priority. However, we have found that the funds that are being provided to Assam through the NEC and the Ministry of DoNER appear to have lost sight of these priorities. In 2013-14, as per our information, the releases to Assam under NLCPR were Rs 251.37 crore, while NEC released Rs 118.11 crore. However, in 2014-15, Assam has received only Rs 156.10 crore under NLCPR and only Rs 71.84 crore from NEC. The reduction in funds from NLCPR and NEC adversely impacts the State, which is in need of higher public investment. I would urge the Ministry of DoNER and NEC to take note of this serious development and ensure the availability of adequate resources for our development.�
Gogoi said that in view of the abolition of the Planning Commission, the role and functions of NEC should be expanded to reflect greater inter-State coordination for economic development and to act as a link between the Union Government and the North Eastern region for a realistic assessment of the needs of the region.