NE Govs, CMs disapprove Centre’s decision to stop new schemes

Correspondent SHILLONG, JUL 10 | Publish Date: 7/10/2018 11:55:58 PM IST
Governors and Chief Ministers of the North Eastern states have expressed their disapproval of the BJP-led NDA government’s decision to put on hold new schemes funded through the North Eastern Council (NEC).
Union Finance ministry through its Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) had last year decided to stop projects under Non-Lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR), following which, the Union cabinet gave its approval on March 28 this year to introduce a new scheme called “Northeast Special Infrastructure Development Schemes (NESIDS)” in the place of NLCPR.
“All governors and chief ministers have expressed their concern as to why last year’s sanctions for projects were stopped or kept in abeyance,” NEC Secretary Ram Muivah told journalists on the concluding day of the Council plenary meet here in Meghalaya. The plenary meeting, considered to be the highest decision making authority, chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who is also the ex-officio chairman of NEC was attended by governors and chief ministers of the NE.
“Some decision has been taken at the plenary in this regard, and the Project Identification Committee (PIC) with DoNER secretary as chairman, will hold its meeting within this month to further discuss the matter,” Muivah said.
CMs of Mizoram- Lal Thanhawla, Nagaland- Neiphiu Rio, Meghalaya- Conrad K. Sangma and Arunachal Pradesh- Pema Khandu had appealed to Singh to review the decision to put on hold developmental projects sanctioned by NEC, the regional planning body, to meet the development needs of the region. Thanhawla had said the Centre’s move has undermined the autonomy of the NEC, a statutory body created through the NEC Act, 1971.
Muivah said the PIC was constituted, and in that meeting, it was stated that although the Union cabinet has given approval on March 28 this year on the introduction of new scheme (NESIDS), but whatever sanctions given last year for projects, have to be reviewed by the PIC.
Under the new scheme (NESIDS), the Centre through the ministry of DoNER has assured to fund 100 per cent for projects, not like the earlier funding pattern of 90:10, (90 per cent by the Centre and 10 per cent by the respective states).
However, the NEC members were not happy with the new scheme (NESIDS) on the ground that the Centre would earmarked only around Rs 1,600 crore, whereas for projects sanctioned under NLCPR on 90:10 funding, the total amount for projects would come to almost Rs 40,000 crore.
Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio said the decision of the Expenditure Finance Committee to put on hold all the new projects sanctioned from April 2017 onwards may not prove beneficial in the long run since the North Eastern states, particularly Nagaland, with meagre resources, look to the NEC and DoNER to come to supplement their resources to implement important projects and programs,
“The projects sanctioned during 2017-18 were meticulously selected by the State as priority and were also retained and sanctioned by NEC after thorough scrutiny... If the projects are to be put on hold, it will eventually lead to cost escalation which is not admissible under NEC guidelines. Further, it may attract litigation from various quarters,” Rio said. “These decision of the DoNER ministry and the NEC led to a sense of disquiet among the NE states and has disheartened the state government departments who have spent considerable time, effort and money in the preparation of DPRs,” Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma said.

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