The 2000 MW Subansiri Lower Hydro Electric Project will be a landmark in the hydro power journey of India, said Arunachal Pradesh Chief minister Pema Khandu on Monday. He was speaking at at the 66th Plenary of the NEC held at New Delhi. He also expressed optimism that with support of Assam Government the issue related to the particular project would be resolved.
Arunachal Pradesh with hydropower potential of over 57000 MW but barely been able to build less than 500 MW, the Chief Minister requested the Ministry of DONER to consider infusing a block grant for some projects which are part of the list of 8 doable projects.
Chief Minister strongly endorsed empowerment of the North East Council (NEC) to serve as an effective vehicle for transferring resources and capacities to the North Eastern States. He reasoned that the Council was created with the sole objective to decentralize regional planning and investments. Khandu pointed that all schemes of NEC have been categorized as Central Sector Schemes, which earlier used to be Centrally Sponsored Schemes.
“The very purpose of creating NEC was to encourage decentralized regional planning and investments. A departure from this approach may be counter productive to need based project development,” he observed.
Asserting that the budget allocation to NEC needs to be enhanced, Khandu proposed that all unspent 10% allocation of union ministries for the region may be transferred to NEC for focussed investments in infrastructure and institutions of the North East.
The Chief Minister termed deficit of skills and dearth of private investments and jobs as the biggest challenge for youths of the region, especially Arunachal Pradesh. He urged NEC to increase investments in Institutions of Skill Development and sought establishment of a ‘Regional Institute of Skill Development’ in Arunachal Pradesh and offered to make available adequate land. He also suggested NEC to help create a venture capital fund in partnership with Public Sector Banks and other Financial Institutions to provide access to low cost finance for educated unemployed youths.
Khandu opined that NEC must also play a crucial role in creating Institutions to help in aggregation of agricultural produce, marketing and processing. He hoped that the Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Centre for Policy Research, Shillong will come out with practical solutions for developing the horticultural value chain for the region.
Calling for a new paradigm of economic development of the region, Khandu proposed to host a two-day Regional Conference in November, 2017 in partnership with NITI Aayog, DoNER and NEC along with leading Academic Institutions and active participation of all Chief Ministers of North East to outline a new vision for development of the region.
Under the “Act East Policy” of the Union Government, Khandu urged construction of a road from Lumla to Tashigang in Bhutan. He also emphasized the need to establish an integrated Check Post at Pangsau Pass, which would help opening up of Stillwell Road upto Myanmar for trade purposes besides starting of informal border haats.
Impressing the need to learn from cumulative experiences of the region, Khandu said NEC can help build a reservoir of regional experience and sharing of best practices which would be replicable in other States. Further, he said NEC needs to support member States in ushering in a new paradigm of e-Governance as the North Eastern States may require hand holding support in absorbing changes of digital transactions to make a smooth transition.
Describing robust connectivity as a major challenge for Arunachal Pradesh, Khandu sought support of NEC with viability gap funding for completing all road, rail, telecom and airstrip projects. He also sought the support of NEC in value addition of hugely abundant bamboo resource through an integrated value chain linking farmers with bamboo processing facilities.
The 66th Plenary of the NEC chaired by DoNER Minister Jitendra Singh was attended by Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju, Governors and Chief Ministers of all the northeastern states, officials of DoNER and NEC.
Dr Singh assured all members that the development of North Eastern region is amongst the foremost priorities of the Prime Minister and the Union Government is in the process of reinventing NEC as an effective regional body. He also said that earnest measures should be taken to deploy the 10% resources under the non-lapsable pool of resources.
Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein, Chief Secretary, Development Commissioner, Secretary to CM and several state government officials also attended the day long session.