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NE CMs irked at cuts in fund allocation

By Kalyan Barooah

NEW DELHI, June 16 � Faced with drastic cuts in fund allocation, the Chief Ministers of the North Eastern States (NES) �have pressed the alarm bells, cautioning that the trend of meagre allocation has led to many decisions of the North Eastern Council (NEC) remaining unaddressed and unimplemented.

Chief Minister after Chief Minister addressing the 60th Plenary Meet of the NEC rued about the �inadequate allocation� of funds hampering the implementation of the North-East Vision 2020, besides other critical infrastructure projects.

The two-day event was inaugurated by Minister Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), Bijoy Krishna Handique, who is also the chairman of the NEC. The Chief Ministers and Governors of the eight NES, all members of the NEC, besides top officials are taking part in the Plenary that would see them clear the annual plan of the Council.

The meeting has 12 items on the agenda including unveiling of a Master Plan drafted by NEC on tourism, presentations by Ministry of Railways and Power on its Action Plan as per Vision 2020 document, a presentation by advisor to the Prime Minister and Chairman National Innovation Council, Sam Pitroda.

However, cut in fund allocation has made several Chief Ministers and Governors see red.

�The Planning Commission has allocated Rs 7,394 crore for NEC during Ninth Plan. The allocation is inadequate to address the hopes and aspirations of the Region, Chief Minister, Tarun Gogoi said participating in the deliberations.

Out of the Plan allocation, the actual disbursal has been limited to

Rs 3,248 crore till the current year, leaving a balance of Rs 4145.50 crore yet to be received, the Chief Minister, who was accompanied by Minister for Planning Tanka Bahadur Rai, said.

With limited outlay, NEC would fall drastically short in terms of achieving the ambitious goals set out in the NER vision 2020, Gogoi said.

The Chief Minister also expressed his dismay at the current year�s plan outlay of Rs 700 crore is quite inadequate to achieve its targeted goal. It needs reiteration that the funds allocated to the NEC should be increased substantially to complete all committed liabilities of the spill over works.

Joining issue, Meghalaya Chief Minister, Dr Mukul Sangma recalled that the Task force for Accelerated Development of NES headed by B N Yugandhar had recommended additional investment of about Rs 42,000 crore during the 11th Plan period.

The NEC had proposed an 11th plan outlay of Rs 12,487.54 crore. However, the final outlay for entire five year period of 11th Plan (2007-2012 was fixed at Rs 3,248.50 crore, Dr Sangma lamented.

Echoing the same sentiment, Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Jarbom Gamblin said the Planning Commission�s allocation for the 11th Plan period is only 43.93 per cent of the NEC�s projected outlay.

�We all share an apprehension that with such meagre funding, it may not be possible to achieve the targets, as envisaged in the NEC�s Vision 2020. Adequate and timely funding is absolutely necessary and is also a pre-requisite for successful completion of any project,� he said, adding that since this is a terminal year, there may not be much scope for alteration now.

Touching on the same issue Governor of Meghalaya, Ranjit S Mooshahary said that stressed that there is valid case as well as need for much higher outlay for 2011-2012, being the final year of the current plan period.

Meanwhile, Tarun Gogoi made a strong pitch for development of Guwahati, as a gateway of the North-East. All the NES have achieved the benefits, directly or indirectly from the existing infrastructure and other facilities in most places of Assam and especially in Guwahati. Any development projects taken in Assam would as a naturally corollary ensure that the benefits accrue to other States as well.

Hence, projects having multi-State impact should be given higher priority by the Ministry DoNER for funding through NEC.

Earlier, delivering his inaugural address, Handique said that under Non Lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR) due to good performance of the States, expenditure in 2010-2011 was Rs 805.77 crore against allocation of Rs 800 crore. This is the highest expenditure under the Pool, so far.

Tripura was given an extra allocation of Rs 20 crore by way of retention of projects for its good performance under the NLCPR, Handique announced.

�It is our efforts to see that implementation and policy issues that implementation and policy issues that cut across various sectors and therefore tend to fall between the cracks, are identified in this forum and appropriate plan of action be drawn up to tackle them, especially now that the secretariat of the NEC is engaged in preparation of the 12th Plan.

�I have directed that a few pilot projects are taken up in specific sectors that would be in the nature of learning experiences for us to be upscale suitably,� he said.

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