State like Arunachal Pradesh the criteria for deciding quantum of funding under various Central Sector Schemes should not be based on population and must take into account special conditions of the state,- Pema Khandu
Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu today urged that criteria of central funding should not be based on population when it comes to North-Eastern states like Arunachal Pradesh.
Speaking at the 68th Plenary of the North East Council (NEC) here today, Khandu said most developmental schemes of the Govt of India, whether in social sector or for creation of infrastructure, works are based on population criteria. He said NE states have low demography but large geographical areas, a large part of which comprises remote, hostile and challenging terrain.
“Hence for a state like Arunachal Pradesh the criteria for deciding quantum of funding under various Central Sector Schemes should not be based on population and must take into account special conditions of the state,” he stressed.
Arunachal Pradesh is prone to several natural disasters on account of heavy rainfall resulting in landslides, floods and other calamities which cause large scale destruction of houses, standing crops and other private property besides damage to infrastructure. Khandu said the relief grants that the state receives from Govt of India to mitigate the natural calamities is insufficient and needs to be revised substantially.
Citing connectivity as the major challenge for development, he said in Arunachal Pradesh around 700-800 rural habitations are still unconnected by road because they do not qualify for funding under PMGSY. However, as people do reside in these habitations, he suggested that roads for such habitations could be taken up under NERSDS or Bharatmala. Or else, the eligibility criteria under PMGSY could be revised for states like Arunachal Pradesh, he said.
The Hollongi Airport is expected to become operational by 2022. Meanwhile, Khandu suggested that Lilabari Airport in North Lakhimpur district of Assam, the nearest airport to Itanagar, a daily flight from Delhi to Lilabari via Guwahati may be commenced at the earliest.
He informed that Arunachal Pradesh is perhaps the only state in North-East deprived of externally aided projects from World Bank, ADB and JICA. This, he said, not only deprives the state of financial benefits but also of technical knowledge that comes with Externally Aided Projects.
“There is a substantial deprivation of developmental loans/aid to the state which needs to be compensated through an alternative arrangement, preferably under NEC,” khandu suggested.
While pointing that the 15th Finance Commission is about to make its recommendations to Govt of India regarding the formula by which vertical and horizontal devolution of Central funds would be given to various states, Khandu informed that at present Arunachal Pradesh receives 1.37% of resources from the divisible pool. He said this share needs to be revised very substantially keeping in view the strategic location of the state and several jointly shared developmental priorities of Centre and State.
NEC has been funding many schemes in the social sector or capital works across different departments. He informed the total amount of funds received by the state was around 200 crores. However since 2018, no new schemes are being considered for approval/sanction, which he said is adversely affecting developmental works in the state and needs urgent attention.
As the state government has already constructed necessary infrastructure at Pangsau Pass for facilitation of border trade, he said the Land Customs station proposed here need to be made operational with immediate effect. Pangsau Pass marks the international border with Myanmar and is located in the Changlang district.
Khandu said sufficient funds should be made available through NEC for development of Sports Infrastructure in NE States in general and Arunachal Pradesh in particular in the backdrop of special emphasis put in by the Center on Sports through the Khelo India and Fit India programs.
He requested DoNER Ministry to expand the outreach of NERCORMP in all border blocks across Arunachal Pradesh. He said NERCOMP has made appreciable impact in the three insurgency-affected and drug infested districts of Tirap, Changlang and Longding, therefore the same may be extended to other backward areas of the state.
Emphasizing on focussing on agri-horti sector, Khandu informed that the state government’s budget (2019-20)envisages coverage of 90,000 farmers by 2022 under various farmer centric schemes with special emphasis on improvements in Mission mode programmes for Piggery, Dairy and fishery development, Improvement of Jhum productivity through fruits, Medicinal & Aromatic Plants (MAP), area expansion by land terracing, Crop diversification with high value crops like Tea, Rubber, oil palm, various fruit crops like Kiwi, Mandarin Orange, pome and stone fruits in tune with emerging market demand. He urged NEC to increase Normative allocation under Livelihood Sector for Arunachal Pradesh considering its physical vastness, remoteness, difficult terrain and unique topography.
He also requested NEC to identify and provide fund for establishment of regional important educational institutions in Arunachal Pradesh. He suggested that Govt of India should consider providing adequate amount of funds and resources to create ample state-of-the-art institutions in the field of Science, Medical Science, Engineering Arts, Management and other specialized streams. Apart from these Middle and Secondary level education institution may also be included in the purview of NEC.
“I would request NEC to explore the possibility of opening critical care unit in Tomo Riba Institute of Health & Medical Sciences hospital by providing additional funds. I also request NEC to provide fund for establishment of Medicity at Pachin Colony, Naharlagun without curtailing the normative allocation for the State,” he said.
Recounting that the Prime Minister, in his Independence Day speech, had called upon Indians to visit at least 15 tourist destinations across the country before 2022, with particular emphasis on Northeast region, Khandu proposed that all 8 states should come up with a comprehensive plan to attract tourists from all over the country. This will give a major boost to local entrepreneurs besides showcasing the beauty of the region to t rest of the nation, he said.
Khandu said the initiative of the Prime Minister for creation of North East Water Management Authority which is in the process of finalization by NITI Aayog will go a long way in fulfilling the objective of optimization of water resources in the North Eastern Region. Since, Arunachal Pradesh constitutes about 46% of water shed area of Brahmaputra basin and about 70% of its discharge, he requested to set up one branch office of the Authority at Itanagar.
He informed that Arunachal Pradesh has a quality forest cover of 82% of the total area providing invaluable ecological services to the nation and the world as a carbon sink. The State has 148.52 tonnes of carbon stock per hectare which is highest in the country and its value is estimated to be about Rs. 48000.00 crores annually. He appealed NEC and DoNER to pursue Green Bonus for Arunachal Pradesh with the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
Stressing that there is an urgent need for Government intervention to preserve and protect indigenous tribal culture and identity in its purest form, Khandu said tribal scripts, oral traditions and rituals need to be archived by professional ethnographers. He said NEC can play a pivotal role by providing assistance by setting up heritage centers and museums and suggested DoNER and NEC to initiate a program on development of modified roman scripts of indigenous tribes of all the 8 North Eastern States in consultation with the concerned Ministries.
He also pitched in for an airport at Tawang both for tourism and security reasons, as the district is strategically located and is a hot tourist destination. Assuring that the State Government will make requisite land available, he suggested funding for the same thorugh NEC or DoNER. Besides, he also reiterated the need for having a separate IAS/IPS cadre for Arunachal Pradesh.