NEW DELHI, Dec 27 � Lauding the economic growth rate of the North Eastern States, Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh on Thursday announced plan to boost up the pace of investments in key infrastructure sectors in the Region.
Inaugurating the day-long 57th meeting of the National Development Council (NDC) held at Vigyan Bhavan today, the Prime Minister was all praise for the North Eastern States.
�Eleventh Plan paid special attention to the North-east and I am happy to say that North Eastern States have responded well, Dr Singh said.
GDP growth in a number of States was higher than the national average. �We plan to step up the pace of investments in infrastructure, particularly roads, rail, airports, waterways and power transmission systems to support and stimulate economic activity in this vital region of our country,� said the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister said he was hopeful that as a result of our Look East Policy, the NER will fast become a major gateway to trade and economic activity with our neighbours.
Meanwhile, majority of the Chief Ministers of the North Eastern States called for according top priority to development of infrastructure particularly road connectivity.
Development of infrastructure in the NER needs to be accorded the highest priority, in order to improve connectivity within the region, and with rest of the country, as also with the neighbouring countries, said Tripura Chief Minister, Manik Sarkar, adding that the process of development of infrastructure in Tripura has been painfully slow and needed very urgent attention.
The draft 12th Five Year Plan fails to adequately address the issue of uneven development in the country. In the past some parts of the country have progressed at a very high pace while other parts of the country are extremely under-developed, said Sarkar.
For instance, the NER is admittedly among the most under-developed regions of the country. The region has suffered from geographical isolation and poor infrastructure for very long, resulting in slower economic growth and higher incidence of poverty and unemployment, which has in turn, acted as a major constraint in the development process, the Chief Minister of Tripura said.
Meanwhile, seeking to establish that the North-east growth story is a reality, Meghalaya Chief Minister, Dr Mukul Sangma said that the State growth�s during the 11th Plan has sustained a trajectory, which has been exhibiting a clear rising trend from 3.8 per cent to over eight per cent during the current plan period.
This was possible, Dr Sangma said due to significant contributions from the secondary and the tertiary sectors. The contribution of primary sector has, however, been less than three per cent, he pointed out.
Echoing the need for development of infrastructure, Dr Sangma said Meghalaya in particular and North-east in general has suffered due to the deficit. SARDP NE has the potential to transform the North-east and therefore, there is a strong justification for Phase C of the Project.
Concluding that inadequate connectivity has become a major bottleneck to productivity enhancement, the Meghalaya Chief Minister called on the Planning Commission for monitoring implementation of a time-bound action plan for ensuring reliable telecom connectivity for the region.
The option of providing an alternative telecom link through the OFC landing point at Cox�s Bazaar in Bangladesh needs to be explored seriously and vigorously, Dr Sangma said.
Addressing the NDC meeting, Nagaland Chief Minister, N Rio said that the NES barring Assam are primarily dependent on road transport. As such, development of roads in the North-east deserves the highest priority from both development and strategic roads. Construction of the trans-Arunachal Pradesh Highway is indeed a step, which can benefit neighbouring States like Nagaland.
Expressing his satisfaction over road connectivity to Myanmar and Bangladesh being flagged in the Approach Paper with intention to open up the North-east for mutually beneficial economic cooperation with South-east Asia as part of the Look East Policy.