Centre to provide 100 pc funding for NE projects

AGENCIES
GUWAHATI, 4th Dec: The Union government has decided to make 100 per cent funding for central projects in Northeast India, a step aimed at addressing the financing concerns of projects in the region.
Earlier, such projects were funded on a 90:10 pattern — 90 per cent from the Centre and 10 per cent from state. “But our government has taken a cabinet decision for making all centrally funded projects for Northeast India as 100 per cent centrally funded,” the union minister of state for development of the region, Jitendra Singh, said in Guwahati on Tuesday.
“Projects are being monitored on a real-time basis. Geo-tagged photos of different projects are uploaded on the DoNER (Ministry for Development of North Eastern Region) and North Eastern Council websites,” Singh said. “Similarly, we are getting utilisation certificates uploaded and further money is released. Similarly, the detailed project report is uploaded and gets cleared by state-level committees or the ministry. We have cut on delays and there is complete transparency.”
Projects worth Rs 10,200 crore, including Rs 3,500 crore of new works, are currently being implemented in the eight states of the region.
“Now, as soon as a project is sanctioned, Rs 10 lakh is released and the rest of the amount is released once we get the utilisation certificate,” DoNER secretary Navin Verma said. “The gap between sanction order and work order cannot be more than six months.”
The NDA government, soon after coming to power at the Centre, decided that it would deploy at least 80 per cent of the DoNER ministry’s allocation for the completion of old projects and the rest on new projects. Schemes which were five years or older were dropped.
The ministry utilised its entire budgetary allocation of Rs 2,682 crore in the last fiscal year. This year’s allocation is Rs 3,000 crore.
Singh said, “We are not here to answer the misappropriation of earlier governments. We are here for the new ones (projects). We are here for transparency and there is not a single case of misappropriation in those.”
On Tuesday, the NITI Forum for North East — the NITI Aayog’s arm for Northeast India — met in Guwahati. The forum was constituted in February 2018 to periodically review the development status in the region. Tuesday’s was its second meeting.
Singh said the North Eastern Handicrafts & Handlooms Development Corporation, a public sector unit under this ministry, made a profit of Rs 53 lakh for the last fiscal year, after being in the red for several years.
He also informed that with the assistance of Centre, Northeast will focus on bamboo industry in a big way, since this is a sector which has not received the deserved attention inspite of the fact that over 60 per cent of India's bamboo is grown in this region.
Dr Jitender said that under the directions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the home grown bamboo has been exempted from the Forest Act. During the meeting, he disclosed that the Modi government has set up new National Bamboo Mission (NBM) to focus on this sector. The North Eastern Council Cane & Bamboo Development Council will act as a coordinating and facilitating agency for the NE region, he added.
Out of a total outlay of Rs 1,290 crore till March 2020, Dr Jitendra said that Rs 150 cr to Rs 200 Crore has been allocated for the region for the year 2018-19.
He said that priority should be the marketing of high value products like bamboo shoots, candy, bamboo charcoal fibre in fashion Industry. In addition, big industries dealing in fibre, construction material, bamboo engineered wood are the potential areas which can be envisaged for further expansion, he said.
With the four and a half years rule of the Modi government, Dr Jitendra Singh said, there has been a visible and consistent effort to develop the North Eastern region and bring it at par with the other regions of the country.
Dr Jitendra Singh also referred to the growth achieved in tourism sector and said that in the last two years, some of the destinations like Gangtok and Shillong received such a heavy tourist rush that there was no accommodation available. He also referred to plans and efforts to achieve self-sufficiency in ‘Fish production’ considering that 95 per cent of the region's population consumes fish.
NITI Forum is also considering to open “Ashtalakshmi" outlets at airports to sell products of the region. "We will start one such showroom shortly in Hyderabad airport which will display products from Northeast India," Singh said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi refers to the eight-state Northeast India as “Ashtalakshmi" (eight manifestations of goddess Lakshmi).
According to DoNER secretary Naveen Verma, the Centre is carrying out various projects worth Rs 10,200 crore across the Northeastern region under the DoNER Ministry.
The projects will be completed by the end of 2019-20 financial year, he said, adding: “Out of these, around Rs 3,500 crore worth projects are new and these are fully funded by the Centre. The old projects are funded in 90:10 ratio.”
Verma said the Ministry has formulated new rules, under which the gap between sanction order and work order cannot be more than six months, thereby expediting the entire process.
North Eastern Council (NEC) secretary Ram Muivah said a few of the road projects are 10 years old, while most of the old projects are five years old.


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