The North Eastern Council is facing acute shortage of funds, hampering implementation of several of its dream projects like setting up of educational institutes, skill development centres and sports academies.
“We have so many dream projects to implement, but there is no money. Whatever little money we receive, it has over 99 per cent utilisation. So, we need more money,” North Eastern Council (NEC) Secretary Ram Muivah told PTI.
Fund allocation to NEC substantially decreased after 9th Five Year Plan from 5.12 per cent of the total outlays for the North East to 0.03 per cent in the current fiscal, he added.
“When NEC was established in 1972, the first year’s fund allocation was Rs 500 crore, which was a big amount then.
However, it has increased to just Rs 950 crore in 2016-17.
Out of that, Rs 150 crore directly goes to North-East Road Sector Development Scheme (NERSDS),” Muivah said.
Besides, every year NEC gives Rs 3 crore to Border Roads Organisation, Rs 47 crore to Alliance Air as Viability Gap Funding for operating flights in loss making routes and Rs 100 crore to North Eastern Region Community Resource Management Project for sustainable livelihood programme, he added.
“So practically, we are left with only Rs 600 crore in this fiscal. Out of this amount, around 70 per cent goes to ongoing projects or to clear liabilities, which currently stands at Rs 2,100 crore,” he said.
That means, only 30 per cent of Rs 600 crore is left for new projects and this amount needs to be divided between eight states,” Muivah added.
NEC has nine different sectors under it to work upon, but has not been able to take up any important new project only due to lack of funds, he added.
Muivah informed that the North East-specific organisation wants to set up a number of educational centres as per global standards, including an international institute of mass communication and a school of architecture and planning, along with an institute of music, art and theatre.
“Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland do not have any medical college. These states have only around 350 doctors each. We want to develop medical colleges there. We also want to develop an iconic skill development centre in North East,” he added.
The Secretary said NEC has plans to start a football academy in Nagaland, besides setting up a road research institute in North East as roads in almost all states are washed away every year.
He said there are plans to upgrade small airports of the region with Airports Authority of India, implement a mega tourism project and set up convention centres.
“However, we are not able to start anything significant. Against such low budgetary allocations, the actual allocations were further reduced.”
The actual allocations for the 12th Five Year Plan was only Rs 3,622 crore, which is just 59 per cent of the approved outlay of Rs 6,108 crore, Muivah said..
On the other hand, the demand of the constituent states of NEC is on an average Rs 4,800 crore annually.
Muivah expressed apprehension that NEC will fall short of serving any meaningful purpose unless “this negative approach is changed”.
“We reiterated fund concerns at the 65th NEC Plenary Session this year attended by the Prime Minister.
There is a large gap between the resources made available and aspirations of the states.
Without a quantum jump in allocation, it will be difficult for NEC to provide funds for core areas and large projects with inter-state or regional character,” Muivah said.