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DoNER Minister asks Northeast States to expedite fund utilisation

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The Minister of State for Science and Technology (Independent Charge), Earth Sciences (Independent Charge), Prime Minister Office, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Department of Atomic Energy and Department of Space, Dr. Jitendra Singh addressing at the inauguration of a seminar on ‘’Accountability and Transparency”, in New Delhi on August 27, 2014.

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.

 

(PIB)

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UNICEF Launches Its Biggest-Ever Appeal To Help 73 Mn People

Fontaine says UNICEF has had to drastically cut back services for gender-based violence in Central African Republic because it only has received 36 percent of the money it needs.

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UNICEF
Children wait to be treated at a roadside UNICEF clinic, in Kananga, Democratic Republic of Congo VOA

The U.N. Children’s Fund is launching its largest-ever appeal for $3.9 billion in life-saving assistance for 73 million people, including 41 million children affected by conflict, natural disasters and other emergencies in 59 countries.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The U.N. Children’s Fund says 2019 also marks a year of heightened conflict, with more countries at war than at any time in the past three decades.

Among the greatest victims are more than 34 million children affected by conflict or disaster. UNICEF says they are suffering horrific levels of violence, deprivation and trauma with little access to protection and life-saving assistance.

UNICEF Director of Emergency Operations Manuel Fontaine says 88 percent of this year’s appeal is for humanitarian crises driven by conflict. He says the single biggest operation is to help Syrian refugees, the largest displacement crisis in the world, and the host communities in five neighboring countries of asylum.

syrian refugee children,
Syrian children, evacuated from rebel-held areas in the Eastern Ghouta, are seen playing at a shelter in the regime-controlled Adra district, on the northeastern outskirts of the capital Damascus, March 20, 2018. VOA

“The 2nd largest appeal is for Yemen, which over the past year has seen conditions, unfortunately, that were already catastrophic for children get even worse, if that is possible” Fontaine said. “Eight out of 10 children, which is over 11 million, now require humanitarian assistance in Yemen.”

UNICEF’s biggest operations traditionally have been in Africa. But this year the Democratic Republic of Congo places third, followed by Syria and South Sudan.

Fontaine says Africa unfortunately is the continent with the biggest gap in funding. He tells VOA African countries are not getting the attention they need, and that has serious consequences for humanitarian operations.

Yemen
Graphic content / A Yemeni woman holds a child suffering from malnutrition as they sit on a bed at a treatment centre in a hospital in the third city of Taez in the country’s southwest on November 21, 2018. VOA

“In a country like Cameroon, which is one of the countries for which we have concerns, particularly in northwest and southwest region at the moment. We had aimed to immunize 61,000 children against measles and because of lack of resources, we could only immunize a bit more than 2,000,” Fontaine said. “So, obviously, we are far behind what we need to do.”

Also Read: Millions Of Urban Children in Worse Condition Than Rural People: UNICEF

Fontaine says UNICEF has had to drastically cut back services for gender-based violence in Central African Republic because it only has received 36 percent of the money it needs. In all cases, he says funding shortfalls have very direct implications on the lives of children and women. (VOA)