Ashtalakshmi: North East on the path of progress

BL Verma
Eight States of North Eastern Region (NER) known as Ashtalakshmi today is more peaceful than ever. Insurgency, law and order problem including extortions are things of the past. Lot of credit goes to the current regime which has built up infrastructure and capacity building in the region. Government has taken several initiatives for the development of physical and social infrastructure in order to improve connectivity and socio-economic development of the region. Some of the major on-going infrastructure projects in NER include that of capital road connectivity, capital rail connectivity, air connectivity, power, telecom, petroleum and natural gas etc.
Under Act East Policy, the main priority is to enhance connectivity between North Eastern Region and the neighbouring countries viz. Myanmar, Bangladesh, etc. Three important international projects are Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project, India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highways and Agartala-Akhaura Rail link (Bangladesh side). Most of these infrastructure projects are to be completed by 2023-24, which will give further impetus to the development paradigm in NER. Under 10% Gross Budgetary Support (GBS) for the development of North Eastern Region, there has been a substantial increase in resources allocated over the years from Rs. 27,359 crore in 2014-15 to Rs. 51,270 crore in 2020-21. The percentage of actual expenditure to RE is 94.72% during 2020-21. In the current financial year 2021-22, allocation under 10% GBS for the development of NER is in the tune of Rs. 68,020 crore.
Ministry of DoNER through its flagship scheme North East Special Infrastructure Development Scheme (NESIDS) undertaking pragmatic intervention in filling the gaps in specified sectors of physical infrastructure relating water supply, power and connectivity to enhance tourism and also for creation of infrastructure in social sector  especially in the areas of primary and secondary sectors of education and health. Under NESIDS, 99 projects worth Rs. 2452.62 crore have already been sanctioned upto 31.03.2021. Under NLCPR-State Scheme since inception, 1635 projects worth Rs. 16233.78 crore were sanctioned to different NER States, out of which 1195 projects costing Rs. 9433.29 crore have been completed in sectors such as road and bridges, power, water supply and sewage, health, education etc.
North Eastern Council (NEC) under its scheme has been implementing projects in sectors such as transport and communication, power, human resource development and employment, irrigation and flood control etc. Presently, NEC undertakes projects in various sectors like bamboo, piggery, regional tourism, education, tertiary health care including health education and special intervention in backward areas, livelihood projects, science and technology interventions in NER, etc. under its scheme. Under the Schemes of NEC 650 projects worth Rs. 4227.88 crore were sanctioned and 752 projects worth Rs. 4809.66 crore were completed during the last five years. Under North East Road Sector Development Scheme (NERSDS), NEC undertakes upgradation of important and strategic inter-State roads. Twenty-four (24) projects costing Rs.1566.75 crore taken up; three (3) costing Rs. 87.86 crore completed, twenty-one (21) costing Rs. 1478.89 crore ongoing under NERSDS.
Recently Government has approved National Mission for Edible Oils/ Oil Palm with comprehensive coverage of the North East. Government has approved the revival package of North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation (NERAMAC) of Rs. 77.45 crore. Revival package will help in bringing out remunerative price to the farmers of NER, providing better farming facilities, training to farmers in clusters, organic seeds and fertilizer, post-harvesting facilities in order to promote products of North East farmers in global market through participation in events, registration of GI products , promoting FPOs, etc.
As regards tourism in NER, there is immense potential as NER is unique in terms of natural beauty and tourism resources. This region offers great scope for Eco-Tourism, Wild Life, Mountaineering, Trekking, Adventure, Tea Tourism, Cultural and ethnic tourism, Religious, Regional tourism, Golf and a host of others. This region is home to many wildlife sanctuaries like Kaziranga National Park, Manas National Park in Assam and Khangchendzonga in Sikkim. Government is taking various initiatives for promotion of tourism in the region. The on-going Central Ministry projects in the areas of capital connectivity relating to air, rail, road, telecom improving mobile connectivity and major power projects, which are at different stages of completion, once completed, would give further impetus to the tourism sector in NER.
On 26th August 2021, MDoNER in partnership with NITI Aayog and in technical support of UNDP-India has prepared the first ever District Level SDG Index and Dashboard for 8 North Eastern States. The index and the dashboard have features of State-wise, district-wise and SDG-wise comparability. Based on the availability of data, the index was prepared for 103 districts out of 120 districts of NE States. The top district in the rank was East Sikkim of Sikkim with score of 75.87 and lowest score was Kiphire, Nagaland (53.00). This index is a unique policy tool which has immense potential to measure district level progress, highlight critical gaps, and help in resource allocation. This can be used as tool for planning future development.
Today, the stage seems set for a higher growth trajectory for the entire NER.The Government is committed to bring NER States at par with other developed States of India by special focus on them for their complete transformation.
The writer is MoS(DoNER and M/o Cooperation) PIB