Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar on Tuesday called for increasing the proposed outlay of the North Eastern Council (NEC) for 2010-11 to at least Rs.2,000 crore, of which Rs.1,500 crore should be allocated for new projects for the NEC to achieve its stated targeted goal.
Speaking at the 58th NEC meeting here, Mr. Sarkar said the proposed outlay of Rs.1,002 crore for 2010-11 was not up to the expectation to attempt any desired and relevant action on most recommendations of the North Eastern Region (NER) Vision 2020 or to meet the 11th Five Year Plan targets.
He was also surprised that against an allocated outlay of Rs.7,394 crore for the 11th Five Year Plan, the actual allocation during the first three years was Rs.1,848 crore, a mere 25 per cent of the total plan outlay.
“With this limited outlay, the NEC would fall short in achieving the goals set out in the NER Vision 2020. This trend of receiving less allocations during the last few years compared to what was approved has resulted in many decisions of the NEC remaining unimplemented, and if the present state continues, the NEC would fall short of serving any purpose,” he said.
Mr. Sarkar expressed apprehension that the reduction in outlay in real terms would further accentuate regional disparities, and said the matter needed to be taken up by the NEC and the Ministry of Development of the NER with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh immediately to ensure sufficient plan allocation in the remaining two years.
He added that the equitable distribution of resources to constituent States should be ensured with all seriousness in the NEC plan.
Echoing Mr. Sarkar, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio also called for the equitable distribution of the NEC plan outlay at the rate of 10 per cent to each State and utilising the remaining 20 per cent for the common interests of all the member States.
Mr. Rio said that during the eighth and ninth Five Year Plans, Nagaland received only 3 per cent of the total NEC plan outlays.
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told journalists that he had stressed the need for giving top priority to improving connectivity, the formulation of a separate agriculture policy for the region, and ensuring remunerative prices to farmers and encouraging private investment in the education sector.
Meghalaya Chief Minister D.D. Lapang pointed out that although the issue of equitable distribution of NEC funds had been a debatable issue since 2002, no consensus had yet evolved. He urged the NEC to ensure the timely release of funds.