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Nagaland

TR Zeliang addresses NITI Ayog meet

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By EMN Updated: Feb 09, 2015 12:23 am
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Touches issues of Eastern Nagaland special package, foothill roads, airport at Ruzaphema, Dimapur-Tizit railway

EMN
DIMAPUR, FEBRUARY 8

[dropcap]C[/dropcap]hief minister T R Zeliang today placed the issues of Eastern Nagaland Special Package, Foothill roads, Airport at Ruzaphema, Dimapur-Tizit Railway among others at the first Governing Council meeting of NITI Aayog in New Delhi where Prime Minister Narendra Modi participated. Regarding the Eastern Nagaland Spercial Package, T R Zeliang said in his speech that recognizing the need to address the existing development deficit in the eastern districts of the State, an amount of Rs. 300 crore was proposed under SPA during 2012-13. “This was approved within the approved Plan outlay of 2012-13 by the Planning Commission as SPA Package for Eastern Nagaland region,” he mentioned.
According to the Chief Minister, the special package was sought for the four relatively backward districts of Eastern Nagaland, namely, Mon, Tuensang, Longleng and Kiphire, bordering Myanmar. The State Government had already drawn up the detailed schemes, and in some cases, the works have already started, with much expectation from the people of the backward areas. However, no such package was forthcoming. The Central Government is requested to intervene in the matter for early sanction, he added.
Regarding the foothill connectivity, the Chief Minister said there is an urgent need to construct a foothill roads in Nagaland to provide unimpeded and efficient road connectivity to the State capital, Kohima and the commercial hub at Dimapur for the people dwelling in the districts of Mon, Longleng, Mokokchung, Wokha and Peren. This was proposed to bring about transformation to the economic scenario of the State by creating opportunities for exploration of minerals and facilitate productivity of agro-based industries and also to create a market route for trade and commerce with other States of the country. The proposal was also to instill a sense of security for people travelling across the State without crossing neighbouring States especially during bandhs/strikes, etc in the other States, the Chief Minister added.
According T R Zeliang, the proposed project is for construction of a four-lane highway from Tizit in Mon district to the Southernmost tip at Khelma in Peren district. The project is envisaged to join the Trans- Arunachal Highway at Khonsa (Arunachal Pradesh) in the North and the EW corridor at Maibang (Assam) in the South. The total length of the road is 580 kms and the estimated cost of the project is about Rs. 6600 crores. “Our request for taking up the project as a national project may please be considered,” T R Zeliang appealed.
Regarding the Airport at Ruzaphema, the Chief Minister said proposal for construction of a Greenfield airport at Ruzaphema was moved in the year 2000, and pre-feasibility project report submitted.
The Airport Authority of India has recently conducted a fresh pre-feasibility study which has confirmed the viability of the Project. Ruzaphema is conveniently located between Kohima and Dimapur. The Central Government is requested to expedite preparation of the DPR so that the project can be taken up early, he added.
In connection with the Dimapur-Tizit Railway the Chief Minister said it has the distance : 257.19 km with the cost of project of Rs. 4275.95 crore. According to him, the survey work was already undertaken by Ministry of Railways and completed in November, 2011. The project covers Dimapur, Wokha, Mokokchung, Longleng and Mon districts. “In view of its strategic importance for socio-economic development, this project is requested to be taken up as a national project to be funded by the ministry,” further appealed. Ministry of Railways had already taken up with the Planning Commission of India for approval, Zeliang added.
Regarding the IR Battalion, the Chief Minister said the State Government has established 7 (seven) IR Battalions across the State. Construction of infrastructure for the 7 (seven) battalions are in full swing. The total estimated cost of the project is about Rs. 674 crores. The Chief Minister said that despite meager available funds, the State has already invested a substantial amount for the construction of such infrastructure. The Government of India is requested to kindly provide funds for completion of the projects which is likely to cost another Rs. 336 crores, T R Zeliang added.
According to him, the establishment of IR battalions, to a large extent, has eased the problem of unemployment in the State. Unemployment in the State has not only added to increased social problems but also provided a fertile ground for insurgency, Zeliang further said.
The Chief Minister then said Nagaland is a State yearning for peace and development, and “we are hopeful that under the able and dynamic leadership of the Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Modi ji, who has shown his genuine concern for all States, big or small, we will witness tangible development across the length and breadth of the country within a short period of time. Sir, let me assure you that my government extends our fullest support to you in your noble endeavour”.
He added that some of the views and suggestions of our State on the agenda items circulated are summarized below:
From Planning Commission to NITI – Transition Arrangement
T R Zeliang said during this transition period, as suggested, the present process of Annual Plan may be continued till the end of this 12th Five Year Plan (2012-2017). A mid–term review of the implementation may be taken up as suggested. The transition arrangements so made would also need to be sensitive to the special needs of resource scarce States like Nagaland, he added.
Charter for NITI: Framework for National Development Priorities and Sectoral strategies: Key Initiatives.
The Chief Minister said that the proposals contained in the framework for national development priorities and sectoral strategies are welcome. Implementation of the programme should be in letter and spirit for the benefit of all the sections in the country. Special schemes for the development of North East Region may have to be worked out, in the line of the Act East Policy of the Central Government. “As the Prime Minister had already stated earlier, the North-East can be turned into organic product zone. Development of Smart Cities in the North East Region, adequately equipped with broad-band and other IT infrastructure can solve the problem of educated unemployment, and turn the NE region into a productive zone, contributing to national growth,” the Chief Minister added.
Cooperative Federalism
Harping on the cooperative federalism the Chief Minister said, “We fully support the proposal to strengthen our federal structure in order to make it more vibrant. A structured interaction proposed through the Council of Chief Ministers of all States, with the Prime Minister as Chairman is a necessity. We feel that this will, to some extent, address the shortcomings of our existing system, where the size of representation to both the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament are linked to the population ratio. It is a fact that many a times, voices of small States in the Parliament are often accorded less priority, as we do not have the numbers”.
“We propose that this Council may be empowered to decide the allocation of funds to States not coming under the purview of Finance Commission award,” he proposed during his address in the meeting. Further, it should be an effective decision making body for all issues under its jurisdiction. The Council may be under the Administrative control of a minister- in- charge, assisted by one or more Secretaries. So far, little attention has been given to State specific needs and problems despite taking it up with the concerned Ministries on several occasions, Zeliang also said. The aim of the NITI Aayog in promoting cooperative federalism and development of State specific development models is, therefore, most welcome, he added. This spirit should percolate to the various Ministries of the Government of India having Centrally Sponsored Schemes.
T R Zeliang then said that NE states are grateful that development of the North East region is one of “your priorities.” “We have a Regional Planning Body called the North Eastern Council (NEC) set up by an Act of Parliament, with the Governors and Chief Ministers of all eight NE States as Council Members. Today, its status has diminished to that of a Directorate with practically no funds. Therefore, it is suggested that the NEC should have adequate powers to make decisions and provide the required funds for the development of the region”. The issue of matching five-year Plan projections with availability of resources has been one major drawback in the existing system, he added. Hence, the outcomes of the Plans have always been subject to uncertainty. Perhaps it would be more practicable to allow States to draw Action Plans of sectors or major initiatives/projects and allocate funds on a yearly basis, Zeliang said.
Thrust to Infrastructure Projects
The Chief Minister then said that a state like Nagaland still far behind others in terms of infrastructure. “The suggestion of having Projects Monitoring Groups (PMG) in the States headed by the Chief Secretaries will help not only in monitoring and resolving issues but also in prioritizing such infrastructure projects,” he stated. There are several infrastructure projects which the Government of Nagaland has been pursuing but have not materialized as yet. Allow me to elaborate a little on some of the important projects. These are projects which the State Government, on its own, cannot take up, Zeliang pointed out.
“I once again convey my gratitude to have been given this opportunity to place our views and ideas before the NITI AAYOG. We are committed to peace and development in the State and the region in general. I extend our full support to the Hon’ble Prime Minister, and hope that under his able and forward looking leadership and our collective wisdom, the NE Region will be partner in the growth and prosperity of our great nation,” T R Zeliang concluded his speech.

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By EMN Updated: Feb 09, 2015 12:23:26 am