For the first time ever in the history of Arunachal Pradesh, Chief Minister Pema Khandu, along with Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Menwho also holds the Finance portfolio, today held a pre-budget consultative meeting with various Community Based Organizations (CBOs) towards an inclusive and comprehensive budget preparation for the year 2017-18. The budget, touted to be most innovative so far, is proposed to be placed in the State Legislative Assembly which is scheduled from March 6th to 15th next.
Welcoming representatives of Arunachal Indigenous Tribes Forum (AITF), Nyishi Elite Society (NES), Galo Welfare Society (GWS), Adi Bane Kebang (ABK), Sajalong Elite Society (SES), Aka Elite Society (AES), Tanw Supun Dukun (TSD), Tagin Cultural Society, Cultural and Literary Society of Mishmis (CALSOM), Idu Mishmi Cultural and Literary Society (IMCLS), Sherdukpen Employees Welfare Association (SEWA), Tangsa Literary and Cultural Development Society (TLCDS) and Wancho Cultural Society (WCS) that attended the meeting today, Chief Minister sought suggestions for inclusion in the state budget this year.
He however regretted that many CBOs could not make it to the meeting today due to various reasons but expressed hope that in all such meetings in the future every community of the state will be represented.
“Ours is a unique state with diverse cultures and distinct needs. It is the endeavour of the state government to be innovative in preparation of the state budget by incorporating genuine suggestions and concerns of all communities of the state. CBOs representing their tribes would be in a better place to suggest ways and means to the government for development and welfare of their own communities,” he said.
Khandu reiterated that change cannot be made overnight but a start has to be made and assured that the ‘start’ would begin with this year’s budget.
“This year’s budget will be based on a pan-Arunachal concept,” he assured.
Giving a background on the new concept, Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein, who will be presenting the budget 2017-18 this March as the Finance Minister, informed that budget will be prepared in an altogether different mode from this year.
“There will be no Plan and Non-Plan heads in this budget as it used to be but it will be broadly divided into two categories – Capital and Revenue heads,” he revealed.
Mein informed that there will only be State Annual Development Agenda (SADA) under BE and hence no State Development Council (SDC) meet will be held to finalize budgetary proposals.
“Therefore, our focus will be to take up genuine, necessary and utmost important proposals under SADA that would benefit each and every section of the society,” he said while asserting that sectors like education, health, agriculture/horticulture and tourism will be given priority.
While appreciating the Chief Minister and his Deputy, the CBOs unanimously expressed gratitude and affirmed that such a gesture from the government would pave way in creating a holistic developmental path for the state as even minor communities, who do not have representations in the government, will have their say in decision making.
Almost all the CBOs expressed concern over the education scenario of the state with regard to upgradation of schools without proper infrastructure and sufficient number of teachers and declining quality of education being imparted in government schools.
AITF suggested that the state education department could be divided into 2-3 divisions headed by one Joint or Zonal Director to strictly and efficiently manage the affairs of schools. It further suggested making computer education mandatory and strict monitoring of private schools and colleges. On the other hand, TLCDS suggested introduction of science and commerce streams in at least five colleges of the state spread across the state. WCS too sought requisite infrastructure and teachers in all upgraded schools while TWS opined to close defunct schools for want of students and establish schools for a cluster of villages instead.
GWS while lauding the decision of the government to recruit teachers through APPSC suggested establishment of ITIs in every district to equip youths with employable skills.
Connectivity was another sector that all the CBOs wanted the government to work upon.
Citing village tourism and cultural tourism has become a major attraction in Ziro, the TSD sought budgetary provisions for improvement and maintenance of village roads in the Apatani plateau. TWS drew attention towards the pending Taliha-Tato, Daporijo-Dollungmukh and Taksing-Limeking roads and said road connectivity is a must for every other developmental and welfare projects to reach remote corners of the state. TWS further informed that due to its persistent consultations with villagers, people have accepted to sacrifice their lands for Trans Arunachal Highway and appealed other CBOs to follow suit.
AITF too suggested the government to go tough on the land compensation issue for speedy construction of the TAH while seeking budgetary allocations for a road connecting the foothills of the state bordering neighbouring states.
While ABK called for establishment of divisional commissioners offices to eastern part of Arunachal for better administration, TSD called for development of Ziro and Yachuli into a tourist destination under one umbrella.
AES and IMCLS sought provisions for preservation, propagation, research and documentation of indigenous dialects and cultural traditions like those of minor communities such as Buguns and Akas of East Kameng and institutions like the Idu Mishmi priests.
GWS suggested training of pharmacists and health assistants of remote health centers so that they can take care of minor ailments in the doctor’s absence.
On the tourism front all the CBOs agreed that importance should be given to all the districts of the state as ‘Arunachal as a whole is a highly rated tourist destination’. They suggested doing away with creation of infrastructure at unviable places and concentrate on select places where tourists frequent.
CALSOM while informing that ‘Yatri Niwas’ under tourism sector have been created in remote areas of Anjaw, which actually have huge potential in tourism, regretted that the Government till date issues PAP only till Hayuliang denying inflow of tourists to places like Wallong, Hawaii, Kohow and Dong.
The CBOs also insisted on emphasizing on agriculture and horticulture and providing farmers with incentives, cold storages, fruit processing centers and good marketing outlets.
SEWA and CALSOM also wanted a government policy to curb ‘ganja’ and opium cultivation. They suggested introduction of horticulture crops with incentives as an alternate besides establishment of de-addiction centers with all facilities.
In his closing remarks, the Chief Minister assured that most of the suggestions submitted would be incorporated in the current budget.
Expressing satisfaction over the interaction that lasted for about three hours, he further suggested similar meetings in the future.
“We met today to discuss on budget preparation and it has been a very fruitful one. We shall meet – in good numbers – at least 3-4 times a year on different issues and collectively frame a road map for development of the state and welfare of the people,” the Chief Minister added.