Agartala, April 11: The focus of development projects in the northeastern region on the concept of “HIRA” (Highways, Inland Waterways, Railways and Airways. This was the mantra yield out during the 1st historic meet of NITI Forum which has been constituted for North East development.
The first ever meeting of NITI Forum for North East was held on Tuesday in Agartala. The NITI forum was constituted to ensure the sustainable economic growth of the North Eastern Region (NER). The theme for the first meeting focuses on identifying different constraints and streamlining resources for the prosperous North East.
The meeting, organized by the NITI Aayog, Ministry of DoNER and the North Eastern Council (NEC), was co-chaired by the Vice-Chairman, NITI Aayog, Rajeev Kumar and the Minister of State Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), Dr. Jitendra Singh. Chief Minister of Tripura, Biplab Kumar Deb, Chief Minister of Nagaland, Neiphiu Rio and the Chief Minister of Meghalaya, Conrad Sangma, besides Deputy Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Chowna Mein also participated in the day-long deliberations.
In his inaugural address, Rajiv Kumar said the focus of development projects in the NER will be based on the concept of “HIRA” (Highways, Inland Waterways, Railways and Airways) as spelled out by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He said emphasis will also be made on Education, Health and Skill Development in the region. He further said that Horticulture, Tourism, Food Processing, use of Bamboo and Made in North-East will be developed through five Mission Mode projects in a time-bound manner.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Jitendra Singh, said the Government has focused on development in a region which more or less remained out of the mainstream for the last seven decades since Independence. He said there has been a significant 21% rise in fund utilization in the North-East during the last three years.
Dr. Jitendra Singh said the Central Government has now committed full 100% funding for development projects in the NER, as against 90-10 ratio earlier with the State Governments funding 10% of the total cost.
Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio pointed out that Kohima is the only state capital in the North-East which does not have an airport. He said the State Government has acquired land for this purpose and at least one small airstrip at Kohima should be constructed for providing air connectivity to Nagaland under the UDAN scheme.
Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said that development is the solution for all socio-economic problems in the region and through Infrastructure and Connectivity; many development problems can be solved. He said that the National Games-2022 will be held in Meghalaya, which will coincide with the 75th Anniversary of Indian Independence. He further said that economic challenges of the NER can be met by removing the physical and economic barriers. Chief Minister of Tripura, Biplab Kumar Deb thanked the Prime Minister for giving Tripura an opportunity to host this prestigious event. He said that the State bordering with Bangladesh from three sides imports more than Rs.300 crores annually from Bangladesh but exports a meager Rs.4.6 crores. He said certain provisions prohibit the export of rubber from Tripura, but the same is routed through West Bengal. Further, Deb said Tripura has immense potential in fisheries as the state has the world’s best climate suitable for aquaculture but this has not been exploited.
Representatives of all eight member States of the NER gave their valuable suggestions on Moving towards a prosperous North East Region, the theme for today’s meeting. Secretary, DoNER Naveen Verma and Secretary, NEC, Ram Muivah explained the status of different development projects in the region.