NEW DELHI, April 7 � A shortfall in Plan allocation to the North Eastern Council (NEC) has hit development projects, as the lion�s share of the regional planning board�s funds is utilised for paying back liabilities.
When the Governors and Chief Ministers of the north-eastern states meet this Thursday, one of the crucial issues would be the resource crunch the Council has been facing since long, besides the issue that despite being declared a regional planning board, the Council is yet to start functioning like one.
The two-day NEC meet to be held here on April 9 and 10, will also adopt the draft annual plan for 2015-2016. The meeting, to be chaired by Minister DoNER Dr Jitendra Singh, who is also the Chairman of the NEC, will see power-point presentations by several Central ministries.
The ministries include external affairs on the �Act East Policy�, railways, transport and highways, civil aviation, Inland Water Authority of India, power, human resources development, telecommunications, skill development and North East Space Application Centre among others, said sources.
For the annual plan 2015-16, an outlay of Rs 1088.21 crore was proposed by the NEC. The budget for 2015-16 is fixed at Rs 773.00 crore. The aggregate for four years of the 12th Five Year Plan works out to Rs 2,822 crore against the 12th Five Year Plan outlay of Rs 6,108 crore, leaving a balance of Rs 3,286 crore (57.76 per cent) for the final year of the Plan period.
According to sources, for the annual plan 2014-15, an outlay of Rs 1,412.56 crore was proposed for the NEC. The budget for 2014-15 had provided Rs 770 crore initially, out of which a budget cut of Rs 191 crore was made, thereby reducing the Plan fund to Rs 579 crore only, sources said.
Sources said a major portion of the NEC budget is utilised for clearing committed liabilities. During 2012-13, 61.72 per cent of the plan budget was used for ongoing projects and only 38.28 per cent was released for new projects. In 2013-14, 80.41 per cent was spent on ongoing projects and for new projects it was only 19.59 per cent. The expenditure against the budget up to February 28 is Rs 566.16 crore of which Rs 498.18 crore (88 per cent) and Rs 67.98 crore (12 per cent) are for ongoing and new projects respectively.
Sources said a major handicap is that the NEC being the statutory regional planning body, its secretariat has no scope or provision to mobilise resources. The NEC is statutorily mandated to act as a regional planning body, but with the meagre plan funds provided under the GBS, it is yet to become a pivotal planner for the region.