Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh has asked the North-Eastern States to expedite the process of Central fund utilisation by them.
Presiding over the first meeting of the Executive Committee of the North Eastern Council (NEC) here today, Dr Jitendra Singh said, the most common factors responsible for delay in the completion of various developmental projects include failure by the States to produce Utilisation Certificates on time, delay in submission of DPRs and inability of the State to provide its share of funding. As a result, not only the projects get delayed but the consequent escalation in the budget leads to further difficulties in timely completion of these projects, he added.
At the meeting attended among others by Union Secretary, DoNER, Shri Ameishing Luikham, Secretary, NEC, Shri Ram Muivah, Chief Secretaries of all the eight Northeast States and Member, NEC, Shri C.K. Das, Dr Jitendra Singh said, the NEC is no longer an advisory body but, in fact, a regional planning body with a wider and more crucial role.
He referred to the recent initiative of constituting inter-ministerial committees of the Ministry of DoNER with other Ministries and at the same time, engaging the Delhi-based Resident Commissioners of different States for the follow up of projects so that the targets could be achieved more smoothly. For this, he also hinted at revisiting and revitalizing the entire functioning of the NEC. However, he noted with satisfaction that the NEC headquarter at Shillong has become fully functional and reverberating with activity because the newly appointed Secretary and members are regularly attending the office on full-time basis.
On India’s “Act East” policy, Dr Jitendra Singh said, it is his considered view that to “Act East” effectively, we first need to act east proximal and empower the North Eastern region along the international borders. In this regard, he suggested a number of measures including encouraging the local produce which could find takers for business across the Northeast borders, single window check-posts and limiting the list of items for cross-border trade to products exclusively originating from the region.
Taking a note of the suggestion that the annual budget of NEC had not been enhanced for past almost 40 years in spite of change in fiscal and market scenario, Dr Jitendra Singh advised Secretary NEC to prepare a comprehensive brief drawing comparative statistical differences in the annual budget allocation and disbursement as it existed in the earlier years vis-à-vis the current year, so that the same could be presented before the Union Finance Ministry with a request to seek appropriate enhancement.
Expressing dissatisfaction over delayed progress of work at the airports at Gangtok, Guwahati and Itanagar as well as slow pace of rail and road projects, Dr Jitendra Singh said, this adversely affects the progress in every sphere. He also asked the Chief Secretary of Manipur to personally follow up the land transfer issue for the proposed Sports University at Imphal.