Northeast region has witnessed over 18 per cent growth in direct tax collections at Rs 7,097 crore in 2017-18, Union Minister of State for Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla said today. "The net tax collection was Rs 7,097 crore from the North East in 2017-18. This was a growth of 18.3 per cent over the previous year," Shukla said at a press conference here. During the same fiscal, the Income Tax Department has brought 1.89 lakh more people under the ambit of tax net, he added. "With this, the total tax payers in North East currently stands at around 7.38 lakh persons," Shukla said, adding that these figures do not include Sikkim. He also informed that about 1.2 crore people in the seven states are exempted from the tax net as per section 10(26) of the Income Tax Act. As per section 10(26) of the Income Tax Act, a member of a Scheduled Tribe residing in any area specified in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution or in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura is exempted from paying tax on any income that accrues from any source in the area or state. "We even cannot force them to file IT Returns. So, we have limitations in increasing the tax payable persons in this region. However, we are progressing well," the minister said. He was in the city to review the performances of the IT department, banks and insurance institutions. "We need to develop the e-connectivity more in North East. There are lapses in connectivity, which is affecting online return filing. This is our priority. We cannot give a timeline, but we will address it soon," Shukla added.