“connectivity has been the biggest constraints in the all round development of the region”, Said Chowna Mein, DY CM of Arunachal Pradesh
Deputy Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Chowna Mein attended the first meeting of the ‘NITI Forum for North East’ at State Guest House in Tripura here today. The meeting was chaired by Dr Rajeev Kumar, Vice Chairman NITI Aayog & Chairman NITI Forum for North East and co-chaired by Dr Jitendra Singh, MoS (IC) DoNER & Chairman NEC.
Representing State of Arunachal Pradesh in the first meeting of the newly formed NITI Forum for North East, Mein termed the connectivity issue as the priority agenda saying “connectivity has been the biggest constraints in the all round development of the region”. He requested the forum to resolve to provide the ‘Panch Tatva’ cited by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi to the people of the region. The five elements cited by the Prime Minister were Railways, Highways, Airways, Waterways, and Internet-ways which will boost the connectivity in the region.
Citing poor road connectivity in the State, he said that the road density of Arunachal Pradesh at 26 Km per 100 sq Km is one of the lowest in the whole country and said that roads are crucial for the success of Agriculture, Horticulture, Hydropower and Tourism sectors in the State. He said, “unless, we can provide last mile connectivity to the farmers how will they be able to transport the agricultural produce to mandis? Most of the orchards are located in the temperate highlands. The lack of last mile roads for the orchard growers makes it difficult to transport the fruit to the markets. Also, poor road is a major reason for poor market linkage in the State. Treacherous road conditions can create awful traveller experience and bad reviews for the State Tourism sector”.
Highlighting hydro-power potential of the State, Mein said that State of Arunachal Pradesh has the highest hydro-power potential in the country and possessed 39 % (58,160 MW) of the country. However, he informed that Government of Arunachal Pradesh had signed MoU with Power companies for 40, 000 MW but only 475.11 MW has been harnessed so far which comes to only 0. 82%. With the two more projects namely, Kameng HEP (600MW) and Pare HEP (110 MW) scheduled to be commissioned in April 2018 making it to total 1185.11 MW (2.04 %).
Mein further divulged that out of 136 alive projects allotted to various developers, most of them are struggling to come to implementation stage due to mandatory clearances involving many departments of state as well as Government of India. He requested the GoI to provide the required support to the developers and the state as well while informing that the State Government is contemplating to issue termination notice to those developers who have not adhered to timelines as prescribed by the Govt. of Arunachal Pradesh in MoA. He stated that on successful termination the said project can be taken over by any of the PSU (NEEPCO, NHPC, SJVN etc.) for execution, some expert agency may be engaged or would be decided by Ministry of Power, Govt. of India. He further put forward the proposal that the Ministry of Power may constitute an expert committee and arrive at the requisite amount of Viability Gap Fund which may be given to the developer either by DoNER Ministry as in the case of Tuirial HEP Mizoram, or the said VGF may be provided by MoP itself.
Mein also said that the North Eastern Region can become the fruit bowl of India if land resources are properly utilized by providing good quality seeds/seedlings/planting materials and technical know-how to the growers. He added that Arunachal Pradesh being a large state has the largest land resource and the land under agriculture use is still minimal. “We are yet to make the best use of our land resource and agriculture is the best way forward”, he said.
He advocated for introduction of contract farming for spice crops like large cardamom and ginger, vegetables etc. which can be an effective modality to double the farmer’s income. He also stressed on soil health card to know the profile of soil for success of agriculture in the region and requested the Mnistry of Agriculture to detail a consultant to help in implementing the e-NAM at the earliest in the State saying that eNAM will be crucial for reducing post harvest loss and in ensuring remunerative prices of the crops in the absence of proper market linkages for the farmers.
He also dealt at climate change and rich bio-resource diversity of the State and proposed for establishment of a North East Bio-resource Research and Development Centre in Arunachal Pradesh considering the bio-diversity hot-spots of the State which would also cater to the need of the region.
Mein also pressed for the need to market the whole Northeast as one Tourism destination. He said, “North East Tourism Development Council should take a lead in making this concept a reality by coordinating all the Tourism departments, Corporations and tour operator associations in the region” He stated that tourism should be the fulcrum of Act East Policy and Northeast Tourism should take advantage of the brisk Tourism business happening in our neighborhood i.e Southeast Asia. He mooted that the NETDC on behalf of all the State Tourism departments and Tour Operators of Northeast region should enter in a MoU with Tourism Authorities and Tour Operator Associations of the ASEAN countries to make Tour packages connecting the whole NER and ASEAN. He cited an example that the region can sell a ‘snow tourism package to tourists flocking Bangkok like Bangkok-Dibrugarh-Namsai-Tezu-Mayudia.
He also proposed that the Northeast Venture Fund to have a special quota for those entrepreneurs who want to pursue a career in Tourism and Hospitality.
He also pressed for repair and reactivation of famous Still-Well road to promote border trade in the region and requested the Government of India to take up with Government of Myanmar to encourage trade in the region.
Mein draws the attention of the NITI forum towards the restructuring of plan activities of Ministry of DoNER in which activities under Sports & Youth Affairs, Primary education, Primary health, water resource and water supply have been withdrawn from NEC saying, “this will have far reaching consequences in the development process of Northeast region as NEC is playing a crucial role in the overall development of the Northeast region” and requested the Ministry of DoNER to reconsider this restriction and reinstate the original mandated activities of NEC.
He thanked the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi for forming such a policy making forum for accelerated and sustainable development of the region.
He requested the NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman and Chairman NITI Forum for North East to fix a suitable date for conduct of two days regional conference of the NITI Aayog at Itanagar and invited all the Chief Ministers of North Eastern States to attend the programme in order to draw a road map for development of the region.
Among others, Chief Ministers, Nephiu Rio (Nagaland), Conrad K Sangma (Meghalaya) & Biplab Kumar Deb (tripura), Deputy Chief Minister of Tripura, Jishnu Debbarma, Secretary to the Ministry of DoNER, Naveen Verma, Secretary NEC, Ram Muivah, Ministers from other North Eastern States, Secretaries, Members of NITI Aayog and Heads of prestigious Institutes in the region like NERIST, IIT Guwahati, Rain Forest Research Institute, Jorhat also attended the meeting.
Mein was accompanied by Joram Beda, Secretary Planning & Investment and officials from the Planning Department, GoAP.