Floating ‘development’ as reason, Zeliang seeks more funds from Modi
Dimapur, May 27 : The chief minister of Nagaland has sought from the central government more finances considering his stated expression of “disappointment” that the annual “uneven allocation” of finances have “always been way below our expectations.”
Chief Minister TR Zeliang offered his inputs during the 68th plenary session of the North East Council in Shillong, Meghalaya on May 27. A copy of his speech was dispatched from the chief minister’s office on Friday.
The chief minister blamed the “geographical isolation, combined with social, cultural and ethnic factors,” for the people from the north east failing to “keep pace with the mainland in the field of development, basically due to lack of the required infrastructure for good governance and economic development.”
He also asserted that many of the development programs and policies “framed by New Delhi” were “not relevant or practical to the region.” To make regional plans for the region, and to bring out programs and policies “relevant”, the NEC was created in 1972 through an act of Parliament, he said. This could impact “more practical, more relevant and more need based” policies thereby replacing the old planning concept of “one-size-fits-all” by “this-size-fits-us”.
However, Zeliang expressed concern that money had turned out to be the short draw: “The only disappointment has been the annual allocation of funds to NEC which has always been way below our expectations.”
Besides, he explained, even the outlays approved for the NEC in the various Five Year Plans “have never been actually allotted or utilized fully since its inception.”
For the past many years, Zeliang said, the “statement of good intentions” and the announcement of many ambitious plans by the center for the development of the NE region had so far not been–in his words–“matched by commensurate actions.”
Nonetheless, the Nagaland chief minister hoped that the budget of the NEC “will be enhanced adequately” in the years ahead “so that development of North-East region will witness a new thrust.”
TR Zeliang explained: “The percentage share of Nagaland, in terms of annual sanction and release of NEC funds, has been declining over the years. For example, in the case of North East Region Community Resource Management Project (NERCORMP), Phase I & II were implemented in 1326 villages in Assam, Meghalaya and Manipur. We had asked for inclusion of Nagaland in Phase III, but this was not considered and is being implemented only in the states of Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.”
All said, the chief minister included at least one major concern associated with Nagaland requiring attention–roads. ‘Road connectivity’ is the primary need of “this region”, he said, “Both inter-state connectivity within the region, and inter-district connectivity within the constituent states.”
He also complained that the initial allocation under a new scheme, NE Road Sector Development Scheme, was “too meager.”
“I welcome the introduction of ‘NE Road Sector Development Scheme’ a new scheme for construction and up gradation of important inter-state roads, with inbuilt provision for maintenance for five years. However, the initial allocation of Rs. 150 crore appears to be too meagre for any meaningful impact,” Zeliang said. He has requested the central government to see that “adequate funds” are provided for new road constructions, as well as for ‘maintenance of existing roads’ constructed under NEC and NLCPR funds.