The ‘NITI Forum for North East’ was constituted in February 2018 with an aim to ensure sustainable economic growth of the North Eastern Region (NER) of the country and periodically review the development status in NER. The secretariat for the Forum has been established in the DoNER Ministry. The Forum includes representation from all NE States, their Chief Secretaries and Secretaries of relevant Central Ministries/Departments, Directors of reputed institutions (IIT, IIM etc), experts and journalists have been included as members.
Rajiv Kumar, Vice-Chairman, NITI Aayog and Shri Jitendra Singh, MoS (IC), Ministry of DoNER addressed a press conference at NITI Aayog in the capital on 09 April 2018 ahead of departure to Agartala. Emphasising the need to identify constraints, streamline resources and add renewed focus on the NER, the Vice-Chairman and the Minister spoke about Moving towards a prosperous North East Region, the theme for the first meeting.
The broad agendas for the First Meeting include among others,
• Strategies for improving Road, Rail and Air Connectivity in the North East Region
• Realising the Hydel Dream – Way Forward for utilising existing potential for hydro-power in the NER
• Agriculture and allied sectors
− NE States to encourage Organic Farming
− Cultivation of Vegetables, fruits, Spices, medicinal plants
− Soil Health Card for farmers
− Minimising post-harvest losses
− Increased coverage under Crop Insurance
− Milk production to be boosted
• Water Management
− Early completion of on-going irrigation projects
• Promotion of Tourism
− Promotion of Eco-Tourism, Rural Tourism and Adventure Tourism
− Strengthening of North East Tourism Development Council (NETDC)
− Organically-themed Home-Stay Tourism (as in Sikkim) may be encouraged in other NE States
− The NETDC to work closely with NE States for tourism promotion
• Identifying and targeting early bird projects in areas of connectivity, agricultural productivity and industrial development to give fillip to growth in the NER.
First Meeting of the ‘NITI Forum for North East’ held in Agartala today
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, 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. 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 75thAnniversary 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 export of rubber from Tripura, but the same is routed through West Bengal. 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.