The 68th Plenary session of the North Eastern Council (NEC) was held in Guwahati on the 8th & 9th September, 2019.
The Plenary session was inaugurated by the Union Home Minister Amit Shah yesterday. The Union Home Minister announced that the North Eastern Council will earmark 30 per cent of its fund for focussed funding of priority areas and deprived sections of society in the North East. He said that every state will identify those villages or regions which are backward in various indicators and will work to bring those regions at par with the rest of the country. The growth story shall never be complete until the entire state progresses at par with the other part, he added. Shah said that after abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, there was some misinformation that there will be also changes to Article 371. He however asserted that the Centre respects Article 371 and it will not touch the Article which grants special provisions to the North East.
The MoS (DoNER) Dr. Jitendra Singh while acknowledged the uniqueness of the Northeastern region, Dr Singh said that as far as the region is concerned there is much more to learn from Northeast for rest of India than Northeast has to learn from the rest of the country. In the last five years Northeast has come more into focus and that has been possible because the government is actually moving in that direction. Reiterating the commitment of the Government for the development of the Northeast, Dr Singh said that North East Council has been given its highest budgetary allotment of 1476 crore rupees for the year 2019-20.
All the Governors and Chief Ministers of the eight north eastern states and other members also attended the meet and presented their speeches. While addressing the Plenary, they highlighted the achievements of the NEC and gave insights for shaping the development agenda of the region. It was emphasised that NEC as a regional planning body and a resource centre should play a major role in guiding the states towards achieving the goal of development at par with the rest of the country. The creation of shared infrastructure, setting up of shared institutions and finding & pursuing common interests for all the eight states should continue to be the vision and objective of the Council.
Senior officials from the states and key Ministries of the Government of India were also present. From the Central Government, presentations were made by the Ministries of Civil Aviation, Telecommunications, Jal Shakti, Railways, Health & Family Welfare, Power, Road Transport and Highways, Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, Tourism, External Affairs, School Education & Literacy and Food Processing highlighting recent efforts made by the Government in the NE region. Some of the key areas in which initiatives have been taken are upgradation of airports, increasing air connectivity of north east region with South-East Asian countries, strengthening broadband network and mobile connectivity especially in the uncovered villages in areas along the international border.
While making their presentations, the state Chief Secretaries highlighted the progress made in various projects funded by the NEC. There were deliberations on the progress of ongoing projects of the NEC, outlays by Central Ministries in the North Eastern Region and plans for the period beyond March 2020, when the Fourteenth Finance Commission era comes to an end. They also gave valuable suggestions on increasing the scope of the Council’s interventions in the Region and improving the funds flow to the states.