NEW DELHI, April 10 � The Chief Ministers of the north-eastern States protested the Centre�s decision to discontinue with the system of Special Category States and made an abortive attempt to pass a resolution calling for status quo.
At the second meeting of the 64th North Eastern Council (NEC) Plenary on Friday, Tripura Chief Minister, Manik Sarkar took the lead in lodging a protest over the Centre�s decision after several Chief Ministers of north-eastern States expressed their dismay at the termination of the Special Category State Status. Meanwhile, the NEC annual budget of Rs 773 crore was passed.
The Chief Ministers wanted continuance of the old system with corresponding benefits. However, DoNER Minister Dr Jitendra Singh, who is also the Chairman of the NEC, disallowed the Chief Ministers from passing the resolution, arguing that it was not the right platform to pass such a resolution.
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi skipped the meeting.
�There are different kinds of opinion coming from different States and Chief Ministers. However, it is not related to the Ministry of DoNER. But whenever an issue like this comes we refer it to the concerned ministry, the Ministry of Home,� Dr Singh, briefed newsmen.
�Besides, the Government of India has to take a wholesome view and not a piecemeal view. We have to look at it at a very dispassionate manner,� the Minister DoNER said.
The Chief Ministers of North-east, while recently participating at the first meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog, had insisted on continuation of the status of Special Category States, the 90:10 loan-grant formula and Non-lapsable pool of fund for the region.
The Chief Ministers opposed doing away with 90:10 funding pattern for Centrally-sponsored schemes (CSSs) for Special Category States, which they asserted will have
serious implications for north-eastern States due to their huge locational disadvantages coupled with challenging security scenario.
The NEC is currently undertaking projects worth Rs 2300 crore, most of which have suffered time and cost overruns. Dr Singh admitted that lot of projects have suffered delays.
Asked about the NEC�s budgetary deficit, he said there are a number of reasons for the deficit, as some of the funds got lapsed. It was too late as we approached March 31. Then there are problems with allocation and there were problems with the release of State�s share. �Every side has its own viewpoint, but ultimately it ends up in delaying the projects and delays lead to other complications like lapse of funds. These are challenges we have to overcome,� Dr Singh said.
Meanwhile, the Minister said priority is being given to improve the air connectivity into and within the region. He referred to the launch of flights connecting Delhi with Dimapur via Kolkata and resumption of the Kolkata-Silchar-Kolkata flight, which was discontinued.
He further said that efforts are on to convince some philanthropic organisations to station aircraft at Guwahati airport at night.
Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Ministry, in its presentation, said that flights from Yangon, Mandalay, Bangkok and Singapore to the north-eastern region need to be enabled.
In its power point presentation, the Railway Ministry told the NEC meet that the Bogibeel-road-cum rail bridge would be completed by June 2017. Besides survey for rail lines to Tawang and Parasuramkund has been done.