NE still lagging behind mainland, need to strengthen the role of NEC, says Rio

DIMAPUR, JAN 23 (NPN) | Publish Date: 1/23/2021 11:40:52 AM IST

Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio has urged the Centre to strengthen the North East Council (NEC) by bringing out a clear vision for development of the North Eastern region, adding that the council was set up with a special purpose due to special needs.

Rio while addressing the 69th Plenary of the North Eastern Council through videoconference, lamented that over the years, the functional autonomy of NEC intended by Parliament had been significantly diluted and the role of the Governing Body of NEC represented by Governors and Chief Ministers of the region had become less important. 

“Let us not forget that this Council has been set up out of necessity to develop the North Eastern region of the country... It is now almost 50 years since NEC was set up but the region still has a huge development deficit when compared to the mainland,” Rio stated. 

The chief minister also highlighted issues concerning the state particularly with regard to Dr. T. Ao Regional Football Academy, Ciethu airport etc.

He expressed dismay that Dr. T. Ao Regional Football Academy project, which was approved at the cost of Rs. 1308. lakh by NEC during 2017-18 had been closed on “as is where is basis”. Rio pointed out that foundation stone for the academy was laid in 2018 and the work was in full swing with the release of Rs. 250.00 lakh and the corresponding State Share of Rs. 27.77 lakh till the lockdown. 

However, he said that the State was asked to reimburse the money sanctioned and released by NEC. This, he said has put the State’s long cherished dream of setting up of the Academy at stake. He reminded that the project once completed will cater to the need of the entire North Eastern region since it was a regional project. Rio, therefore, urged NEC to consider for re-opening of the project along with the other 17 projects for completion.

Rio further went on to point out that Kohima was the only State capital in the country without an airport. He said that the State government had already acquired 1013.72 acres of land at Ciethu and was ready to transfer it to the Airports Authority of India for development of the proposed airport with a runway length of 4.4 Kms, capable of operating A-320 Airbus aircraft.

Besides feasibility studies and surveys conducted  by the Airports Authority of India and multi-disciplinary team consisting of officials from Directorate General of Civil Aviation and Ministry of Environment and Forest, he said an amount of Rs. 90 lakh was also sanctioned by NEC  in 2006 and another amount of Rs.4.48 crore for road construction at the proposed airport-- Chiephobozou- Touphema-via Ciethu airport was sanctioned. 

He, however, said that the project was still not taken up for sanctioning and therefore urged NEC to prevail upon the Civil Aviation ministry to expedite the approval of the project and to start developmental work. 

Among others issues concerning the state, Rio also sought more time for completion of ongoing projects that were stalled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.



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