New Delhi, March 14: The BJP government has failed to realise the dream of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for socio-economic development of the Northeast and removal of regional imbalances, Congress Rajya Sabha member Ripun Bora said on Monday.
However, BJP member Bhubaneswar Kalita hit back, saying the Narendra Modi-led government has “acted” rather than just “looking” at the region, with infrastructure development projects being completed at a much faster pace and by bringing better all-round development compared to what the Congress did.
In a discussion on the working of the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DONER), Bora said the ministry was the brainchild of Vajpayee and was set up in 2001 as the nodal authority of the government to deal with matters related to the socio-economic development of the states of the region.
The basic purpose of the ministry was for accelerated development and to remove the regional imbalance of the Northeast region with the rest of India, he said adding that however, “this dream of Vajpayee has not been translated into reality by the BJP government”.
Citing the number of projects announced in various states of the region since the ministry came into existence, Bora said the Congress-led UPA took up more developmental projects with the involvement of the state governments than what the present government has done.
He said the UPA government “did enough” continuously from 2004-2014 to translate the dream of Vajpayee into reality.
On the other hand, the BJP-led government has focussed on taking up more projects through “other agencies” in the region, he said and accused the Centre of undermining the northeastern states.
“Congress government never encouraged other agencies (for projects in the region). It gave priorities to the state governments but the BJP government has encouraged other agencies, undermining the state governments,” Bora said.
He said that out of the 1,495 projects sanctioned to the eight states in the Notheast since the inception of the DoNER ministry, 604 are still undergoing and most of these projects are from 2010-11 and not a single mega project has been sanctioned in the region in the last eight years.
“This is the sincerity of the BJP government for the all-round development of the Northeastern region,” he said.
Bora also accused the BJP-led government of abolishing the North East Industrial Investment and Promotion Policy (NEIIP) that offered 30 per cent capital subsidy on machinery to encourage big industries to come and invest in the region for a 10 year period from 2007-17.
It was replaced by the North East Industrial Development Scheme (NEIDS) with just Rs 5 crore given as capital subsidy, he claimed, adding it resulted in investors not coming to the region.
However, Kalita said NEIIP was abolished as many industrial houses came just to take the 30 per cent subsidy without setting up actual industry in the region.
“During that time we all know what was happening. Many industrial houses came, but what happened? There were more signboards in the streets than actual industries,” he claimed.
Refuting allegations made by Bora that the government has not worked for the development of the region, he said it is the other way round as the Modi-led dispensation has been focussing on enhanced connectivity of the region through civil aviation, road and waterways.
“Development will be there where connectivity is there and connectivity (of the region) has been the top priority of this government,” Kalita said, adding many new airports were added in the region and those which were closed during the Congress regime have also been revived.
Also, he said all the capitals of the Northeastern states will soon be connected with railways and going to Imphal (Manipur) and Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh) by train, which was a “dream is being realised” soon.
Moreover, road connectivity has been improved drastically under the current government leading all the way to even Myanmar and Thailand, Kalita said.
Referring to the Act East policy of the NDA government, he said unlike the Congress, the BJP-led government believes in taking actions rather than just saying “look East”.
Considering the achievement of the region in sports, he also highlighted the government’s decision to set up a National Sports University in Manipur. (PTI)