Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Kalikho Pul has requested the Centre to consider special funding for the state on the lines of Special Plan Assistance (SPA) in a bid to ensure continued investment in critical infrastructure.
“If the Centre seeks to continue to pursue the policy of trying to bring the backward states at par with the other developed states of the country, it must ensure special dispensation in some form or other for these states to cope up with the national development process,” Chief Minister Kalikho Pul said during a meeting with the 13-member all ministries Niti Aayog team led by its CEO Amitabh Kant here, yesterday.
Pul said the financial gain in case of Arunachal Pradesh, like other Special Category States, which are mostly resource crunched, was not so much as in the case of other general category states.
“This is mainly due to the fact that the allocations like NCA (Normal Central Assistance), SCA (Special Compensatory Allowance), SPA and few CSS (Centrally Sponsored Schemes), which have been delinked from the plan allocation, used to constitute a major portion (about 40 pc) of the total central assistance to the state during 2014-15,” he said.
During 2015-16, the Centre has released Rs 7,200 crores as devolution of taxes to the state as against projected figure of Rs 8,003 crores by the FFC.
Further, for the current financial year, the finance ministry has earmarked Rs 7,800 crores as against the projected figure of Rs 9,237 crores by the FFC.
“There is a deep felt need to build public confidence so that people living along the borders and also in the entire border state of Arunachal are assured that they are indeed an integral part of India, as the government announces each time there is a Chinese claim,” Pul pointed out.
“The sense of neglect and apprehension that people have felt due to lack of development for long, has now to be met with action on the ground. We must ensure that the communities are given the basic amenities of life and a competitive standard of living, in comparison with other parts of the country,” he said.
Arunachal is an uncontested and integral part of India, the chief minister said and asked the Centre to be more assertive with international donor agencies and impress upon them to invest freely in the state.
“Arunachal Pradesh should be made pivotal to our foreign policy vis-s-vis China. For a start, Japan may be invited to invest in the state in order to check Chinese hegemony in the region,” he suggested.
Pul said there is a pressing need and task before the planners to recognise and address historical neglect, extent of economic backwardness, the strength and weaknesses of economies of the hill states, the ethnic, cultural and physio-graphical diversity of the States and requirement of a threshold-level of development.
“Taking full account of the present state of development and the special requirement of the hill states like Arunachal, re-orientation and restructuring of strategies and policies best suited to these areas is inevitable,” Pul emphasised.
Stressing on police modernisation, the chief minister suggested for giving a major thrust on modernisation of police and training on anti-insurgency operations by raising two more IRB battalions with equipments support.
He said the Niti Aayog should also involve itself in assisting the states in drafting state development plan based on state ownership, taking into account state specific needs and resources.
“It must ensure that flow of fund to the states is consistent and predictable and based on a transparent formula centered on critical development parameters like area, distance from development, strategic importance, level of development and other disabilities or advantages faced by the states,” he stressed.
The Niti Aayog may also assist the states in preparing institutional mechanism and capacity building for better implementation, monitoring and evaluation of government schemes and programmes, he said.
The chief further informed that liabilities due to delinked centrally sponsored schemes have put a burden of nearly Rs 1000 crores on the state government and the Centre should continue to provide adequate funding to the schemes pertaining to important social sectors like health and education, to enable the state government to implement the schemes properly in accordance with the aspirations of the people.
“Special funding for continued investment in critical infrastructure for the state is of paramount importance,” he added.