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Rio seeks 100% CSS funding for NE states

Neiphiu Rio

Stresses on improving connectivity

Dimapur, July 9: Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio on Monday stressed on the need to strengthen the NEC for overall regional development. He said the objectives of setting up the council can be best achieved only by providing sufficient funds and upholding the council in its endeavours.
Addressing 67th Plenary of the North Eastern Council today at Shillong, Rio suggested the Government of India to ensure that the budget of NEC is redrawn and the funds allotted to the NEC be utilised basically for the NEC works and not for clearing the liabilities of the Governmental bodies and agencies of the region.
Rio also pushed for conversion of present scheme of funding for NE Region from 90:10 % to full 100%. He said to meet the State share of 10% of the Central share to various CSS becomes an uphill task, and the ultimate casualty is poor implementation of CSS, on account of inability to release the State share. He urged NEC to recommend making all CSS fully 100% from the current financial year 2018-19 for the northeastern states for a period to be decided by Government of India.
The Chief Minister also stressed on the need for heavy investments in infrastructure development such as road, rail and air networks, power generation, high-speed internet connectivity etc in NE region.
Rio said a land locked State, like Nagaland, depends totally on road, air and rail connectivity and the need to strengthen the same to achieve physical integration with the mainland and give impetus to economic development.
“One of the major challenges of road connectivity, on which we are overwhelmingly dependent, is maintenance. Nagaland is marred with unstable soil condition; landslides and heavy rainfall aggravating damage to roads shortening its life span. Limited resources of the State compounds this problem. I request that this Forum may address this problem by making a provision for maintenance of roads,” he said.
The chief minister also reminded that while air connectivity has improved across the country, Nagaland still has only two flights a day. There is no direct flight to Delhi and very often one-way fares to Delhi vary from Rs 15,000 to Rs 33,000, he said adding there is an urgent need to introduce more flights connecting Dimapur to Guwahati, Kolkata and Delhi.
On tourism, Rio said the challenge lies in making the State accessible to the tourists from mainland India and other countries. While connectivity remains one of the acute problem, he also suggested promoting private entrepreneurs in the field of hospitality and other tourism related activities for development of tourism in NE region.
On sports and youth resources, the CM announced that Nagaland has laid the Foundation Stone of the Dr. T. Ao Regional Football Academy in memory of India’s first Olympic Football Captain, at Dimapur on June 8 under the Department of Youth Resources and Sports. He thanked the NEC for the initial grant of Rs 13 crores and prayed that the council will provide complete funding for the project.
On agri & allied sectors, Rio said the Nagaland Vision 2030 envisages to transform subsistence agriculture being practiced today by ushering in commercialization of agriculture. It envisions inclusive development covering all districts of the State with generation of employment opportunities for all sections of the society.
Stating that Nagaland has a comparative advantage for the development and promotion of organic cultivation, Rio said producers face hurdles in obtaining certification, and urged the NEC to provide technical expertise as well as sufficient hand holding to get products certified as organic.
Rio also requested the NEC to establish three regional institutes in Nagaland – Regional Institute of Architecture & Planning, Institute of Music, Art & Culture and North East Institute of Skill Development.
Rio also pointed out that the decision of the Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) to put on hold all the new projects sanctioned from April 2017 onwards may not prove beneficial in the long run since the NE States, particularly Nagaland, with meager resources look to the NEC and DONER to come to supplement our resources to implement important projects and programs.
He also sought inclusion of all the North Eastern States having predominant tribal population for funding under Tribal Sub Plan (TSP), as the objective of the TSP is to bridge the gap between the Scheduled Tribe (ST) population and others by accelerating the development of STs by securing to them through human resource development by enhancing access to education & health services; enhancing quality of life by providing basic amenities etc; reduction in poverty & unemployment; enhance capacities to avail opportunities at par with other areas; and protection against exploitation & oppression. (Page News Service)