The Centre has approved the continuation of schemes of the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) with an outlay of ₹12,882 crore for the balance period of the 15th Finance Commission (2022-23 to 2025-26).
Addressing a press conference, Minister for DoNER G. Kishan Reddy said the decision to extend the approved schemes for the balance period of the 15th Finance Commission was taken at a meeting of the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday.
This would enable better planning for the implementation of the schemes in terms of project selection and front-loading of projects during the scheme period, he said.
Mr. Reddy said efforts will be made to conclude the maximum number of projects by 2025-26 so that there are minimum committed liabilities beyond that year.
The minister said based on the Expenditure Finance Committee's (EFC) recommendations, the outlay for the North East Special Infrastructure Scheme (NESIDS) will be ₹8,139.5 crore, including the committed liabilities of the ongoing projects.
The outlay for the "Schemes of NEC" will be ₹3,202.7 crore, including the committed liabilities of the ongoing projects, the outlay for special packages for the Bodoland Territorial Council, the Dima Hasao Autonomous Territorial Council (DHATC) and the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Territorial Council (KAATC) in Assam is ₹1,540 crore, including the committed liabilities of the ongoing projects.
The NESIDS, a central sector scheme with 100% central funding, has been restructured having two components - NESIDS (Roads) and NESIDS (other than road infrastructure).
Mr. Reddy said the development of the Northeast is a major priority for the Centre, while pointing out that the prime minister has visited the region more than 50 times and Union ministers have visited it more than 400 times in the last eight years.
The Northeast was previously known for unrest, bombings, bandhs etc. but in the last eight years, peace has been established in the region under Modi's leadership, he said.
The minister said the objectives of the schemes of the MDoNER is to supplement the efforts of the different Central ministries and departments on one hand and to address the needs of the northeastern States on the other, for uncovered development and welfare activities.
The Ministry of DoNER schemes help provide gap-filling support to the eight States of the region in accordance with their felt needs by taking up projects, such as those for developing infrastructure to mitigate connectivity and social sector deficits and enhancing livelihood and employment opportunities in the region, he said.
The five pillars of the "Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan" for a self-reliant India - economy, infrastructure, system, vibrant demography and demand - will get a push through the schemes, Mr. Reddy added.
According to an official statement, the actual expenditure in the last four years under the DoNER schemes was ₹7,534.46 crore, whereas the fund available for expenditure in the next four years till 2025-26 is ₹19,482.2 crore.
Massive efforts have been undertaken for infrastructure development in the region and improving connectivity has been the prime focus, the statement said.
For improving railway connectivity, ₹51,019 crore have been spent since 2014. A total of 19 new projects worth ₹77,930 crore have been sanctioned.
In comparison to the average annual budget allocation of ₹2,122 crore during 2009-14, in the last eight years, there has been a 370% increase in the average annual budget allocation, totalling ₹9,970 crore, the statement said.
For improving road connectivity, 375 projects worth ₹1.05 lakh crore are underway. In the next three years, the government will lay 9,476 kilometres of roads under 209 projects and the Centre is spending ₹1,06,004 crore for this.
Air connectivity has also improved massively. In 68 years, the Northeast had only nine airports. The number jumped to 17 in a short span of eight years.
Air traffic movement in the Northeast has increased by 113% since 2014 (year on year) to further give a boost to air connectivity and an amount of ₹2,000 crore will be invested in civil aviation in the region, the statement said.
For improving telecom connectivity, ₹3,466 crore have been spent since 2014. The Cabinet has also approved 4G connectivity in 4,525 villages of the region and the Centre has set a target of 500 days to provide complete telecom connectivity in the region by the end of 2023.
Waterways are integral to the life and culture of the Northeast and the government is undertaking all efforts to develop this important sector in the region. Before 2014, there was only one national waterway in the Northeast but now, the number has gone up to 18. Recently, an amount of ₹6,000 crore has been sanctioned for the development of the National Waterway 2 and the National Waterway 16.
Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) have been promoted under various schemes to boost entrepreneurship development and ₹645.07 crore have been spent to set up and support 978 units.
According to the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), 3,865 startups are registered from the Northeast.
Improving the health infrastructure has been a key focus over the last eight years and the government has spent ₹31,793.86 crore in the health sector since 2014-15.
A total of 19 State cancer institutes and 20 tertiary care cancer centres have been approved under the strengthening of the tertiary care of cancer scheme, the statement said.