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NEDA leaders move PM over �stagnant� NE grants

By Newmai News

DIMAPUR, June 23 - Leaders of the nascent North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) have pointed out to the Prime Minister that the annual fund allocation to the region has been stagnant at Rs 800 crore and have appealed to him to institutionalise Budgetary provisions so that 10 per cent of the funds of the Non Lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR) are mandatorily deposited with the Ministry of DoNER.

�What we require today is greater empowerment of the Ministry of DoNER and the NEC to serve as an effective vehicle for transferring resources and capacities to the North-eastern States,� stated a Memorandum of Request jointly signed by Nagaland Chief Minister TR Zeliang, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Kalikho Pul, Assam minister and convenor of NEDA, Himanta Biswa Sarma, Meghalaya Lok Sabha member and president of NPP, Conrad Sangma, ex-Chief Minister of Mizoram and president of MNF, Zoram Thanga, Assam minister and AGP president Atul Bora, working president of the UDP and former Meghalaya minister Paul Lygndoh, among others.

The decision was taken after the leaders of the NEDA met in Guwahati last night.

It then said that annual fund allocation to the NEC should be �substantially enhanced and mechanisms be created and systems put into place� to fuel the much-desired growth of this largely backward region� of the country.

Pointing out that former Prime Minister Vajpayee had announced in the Conference of Governors and Chief Ministers of the North-eastern Region, including Sikkim, in January 2000 that the Government had created a pool of non-lapsable funds for the Northeast and Sikkim meant for development projects in the region so that resource gaps could be filled, the signatories said in the early years when the visionary development plan was executed, the region witnessed �dramatic changes in its development trajectory.�

�As the benefits of economic development had yet to steadily accrue to the region, this initiative, which stipulated that at least 10 per cent of the budgets of the Central ministries/departments, would be earmarked for the development of North Eastern States was truly a blessing,� the letter to the Prime Minister said.

�However, in the recent past, it has been noted with great apprehension that the quantum of funds allocated to the North-east under the NLCPR has been declining. At a time when the fund allocation to the Ministry of Development of the North East Region (DoNER) and the North East Council (NEC) should have increased with corresponding rise in the cost index, it is ironic that it has stagnated, to the extent that it currently has only an annual allocation of about Rs 800 crore.

�This has greatly impacted the rate of growth of the infrastructure and economies of the North-eastern States,� the letter said.

Stating that development is driven by good planning, the signatories said this must be �backed by appropriate and consistency of funding.�

�The strategic importance of the States in this region, whether as a buffer to the claims on our territory by neighbours or as a corridor to the economies and markets of South East Asian nations as part of the Act East Policy, need hardly be underlined.

�Today, there is a very urgent and critical need to build public confidence so that people actually living along these boundaries are secure that they are indeed an integral part of the Indian Union and significantly, be assured that the growth of the North-east cannot be seen in isolation from that of the growth of our great nation,� the signatories said and asked the Prime Minister for his personal intervention to enable the leaders of the region to �build confidence� in their communities and also re-dedicate themselves to the cause of nation building.

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