Shillong, July 11: Governors and chief ministers from the northeastern states have expressed disapproval of the Centre’s decision to stop projects already sanctioned last year through the North Eastern Council (NEC).
The governors and chief ministers of various states who are also members of the NEC raised this concern during the two-day 67th plenary of the NEC, which ended here on Tuesday.
It was chaired by Union home minister Raj Nath Singh, who has been appointed recently as an ex-officio chairman of the NEC.
Union DoNER minister Jitendra Singh who was earlier the chairman, is now the vice-chairman of the NEC.
The Union finance ministry, through its expenditure finance committee (EFC), had in 2017 decided to stop projects under the Non-Lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR), following which, the Union cabinet gave its approval on March 28 this year to introduce a new scheme called Northeast Special Infrastructure Development Schemes in the place of the NLCPR.
However, during the plenary, members of the council raised the question as to why such a decision for projects related to the council was taken by bypassing the plenary, considered to be the highest decision-making authority.
When reporters asked about the issue, council secretary, Ram Muivah said it was a fact that members of the NEC had discussed the issue at the plenary.
“All governors and chief ministers have expressed their concern as to why last year’s sanctions for projects were stopped or kept in abeyance,” Muivah said.
Muivah said some decision has been taken at the plenary in this regard, and the Project Identification Committee (PIC) with DoNER secretary as chairman will hold its meeting within this month to discuss the matter.
Other members of the council had also questioned the Centre’s move, saying that such a decision has undermined the autonomy of the council, a statutory body created through the NEC Act, 1971.
Muivah said during a meeting of EFC, the Project Identification Committee was constituted.
In that meeting, it was stated that although the Union cabinet has given approval on March 28 this year to the introduction of the Northeast Special Infrastructure Development Schemes, but whatever sanctions given last year for projects have to be reviewed by the PIC.
Under the new scheme (NESIDS), the Centre through the ministry of DoNER has assured to fund 100 per cent for projects, not like the earlier funding pattern of 90:10, (90 per cent by the Centre and 10 per cent by the respective states).
However, the NEC members were not happy with the new scheme (NESIDS) on the ground that the Centre would earmark only around Rs 1,600 crore, whereas for projects sanctioned under NLCPR on 90:10 funding, the total amount for projects would come to almost Rs 40,000 crore.
Mizoram chief minister Lal Thanhawla, Meghalaya chief minister Conrad K. Sangma, Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio and others have also raised the issue at the plenary.
They pointed out that the decision to withdraw sanctions for projects has led to sense of disquiet among the northeastern states, and it has also disheartened the state government departments that have spent considerable time, effort and money in the preparation of detailed project reports. (TTNE)