Review decision to hold NEC projects: NE CMs demand

Correspondent SHILLONG, JUL 9 | Publish Date: 7/10/2018 12:17:39 AM IST
Chief Ministers of the north-eastern states on Monday appealed to Home Minister Rajnath Singh to review their recent decisions to put on hold developmental projects sanctioned by North Eastern Council (NEC), the regional planning body, to meet the development needs of the region.
“We welcome the proposal to reposition NEC into a conflict resolution, development planning and knowledge hub for the Northeast and rolling out of new scheme for 2018-2020 is a welcome step, but such decision is expected to be determined by the plenary meeting of the NEC,” Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla said addressing the 67th plenary meeting here in Meghalaya.
Thanhawla, expressed disappointment with the central government’s decision on the new NEC scheme bypassing the plenary Council which is considered to be the highest decision making authority for the NEC.
He said that Rs 4,500 crore earmarked for the new NEC scheme for the whole North Eastern States during 2017-18 to 2019-2020 is going to be too less to have a meaningful impact for the region’s development.
“The earmarked funds include Rs 2,357 crore for committed liabilities of ongoing projects, Rs 1,000 crore for North Eastern Road Sector Development Scheme (NERSDS), and Rs 640 crore for NLCPR liabilities. However there is no fund left for new projects during the new scheme. It is highly doubtful that the region can be made an engine of growth with such a meagre investment from the Centre,” Thanhawla said.
Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma said the recent decision of the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region and the NEC will have a dampening effect on the socio-economic development of the North Eastern States.
“The decision of DoNER ministry and the NEC led to a sense of disquiet among the North Eastern states and has disheartened the state government departments who have spent considerable time, effort and money in the preparation of Detailed Project Reports for these projects.”
In the spirit of federal structure, any important decision on change of approach and guidelines must be taken at the plenary session of the NEC. Therefore, pending any further decision which should be decided in the plenary session for any modification of guidelines or change approach,” Sangma said urging the ministry of DoNER and the NEC to review the recent decisions and to continue providing financial assistance.
Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio said the decision of the Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) 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 our 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.
Echoing his counterparts, Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu urged Home Minister Rajnath Singh to sort out the matters holding up of projects sanctioned during 2017-18.
Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal has suggested that NEC should release fund in two installments in lumpsum for a year instead of scheme wise release.
“As NEC is the nodal agency to fund key development projects in the NE States, the delay in sanctioning projects and procedural sluggishness in releasing funds must be addressed to speed up project implementation” Sonowal said. 

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