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Government Initiatives in North Eastern region

NITI Forum for North East set up, National Bamboo Mission announced, Sikkim arrives on India’s air link map, 
Digital North East Vision 2022 released, 
PM lays foundation stone of India’s first National Sports University

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Following are the highlights of the initiatives taken by Government for the development of North Eastern Region during the year 2018:

NITI Forum for North East: Focussed attention for development of NER

  • On February 21st, the Government issued orders to create  an exclusive forum at the NITI  AAYOG to prepare plans for the development of the North East Region, co-chaired by the Vice-Chairman of the Niti Aayog and Secretary of  DoNER. The forum examines various proposals both at the Central and the State levels and prepare plans for the speedy development of the North Eastern Region.
  • The first meeting of the newly constituted ‘NITI Forum for North East’ was held in Agartala, Tripura on 10thApril. The meeting was organized by the NITI Aayog, Ministry of DoNER and the NEC. The Forum proposed that the development projects in the NER would be based on the concept of “HIRA” (Highways, Inland Waterways, Railways and Airways) as spelled out by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. The emphasis would also be made on Education, Health and Skill Development in the region.
  • Addressing another meeting of “NITI Forum for Northeast” in Guwahati on 4th December, Dr. Jitendra Singh said that with the assistance of Centre, Northeast will focus on bamboo industry in a big way, since this is a sector which has not received the deserved attention inspite of the fact that over 60% of India’s bamboo is grown in this region.

National Bamboo Mission

  • Union Finance Ministry in February this year announced the “National Bamboo Mission” in the Annual Budget presented with an allocation of Rs.1,290 crore for it. Speaking to media persons, Dr Jitendra Singh said the Bamboo Mission has a special significance for Northeast and the announcement made by the Finance Minister is a vindication of the Union Government’s continued commitment to the development of the region.

Sikkim arrives on India’s air link map

  • The Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi inaugurated the Pakyong Airport in Sikkim on 24th September. This is the first airport in the Himalayan State, and the 100th airport in the country. In order to ensure that Pakyong Airport is affordable to the common man, this airport is part of the UDAN scheme.

Digital North East Vision 2022 released

  • Union Minister for Electronics & IT, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad released the ‘Digital North East Vision 2022’ in Guwahati on 11th August. The Vision Document emphasizes leveraging digital technologies to transform lives of people of the north east and enhance the ease of living. The Vision Document identifies eight digital thrust areas – Digital Infrastructure, Digital services, Digital empowerment, Promotion of Electronics Manufacturing, Promotion of IT and ITes including BPOs, Digital Payments, Innovation & Startups and Cyber security. As part of the Digital North East Vision 2022, a cloud hub for North East will be set up in Guwahati. Capacity building for 50 thousand state government employees will be taken up in use of digital technologies. It also assured to provide mobile connectivity in all uncovered villages in the North East. Speaking on the occasion Shri Prasad urged North Eastern states to promote BPOs at small cities. He said, e-class rooms would be set up at six medical colleges in North East. Several other projects were also launched for the North East including a BPO centre at river island Majuli district.

New train ‘Arunachal Express’ flagged off

  • A new train between Naharlagun in Arunachal Pradesh and Anand Vihar Terminal in the national capital was flagged off by Union MoS Shri Kiren Rijiju and Shri Rajen Gohain on 1st March from Naharlagun railway station. The new train, known as ‘Arunachal Express’ covers the 2,013 kilometre distance between Naharlagun and Anand Vihar Terminal in little over 38 hours and would have 14 stoppages en-route. This is the second direct train for Arunachal Pradesh and 14th for North East to connect with the national capital. Speaking on the occasion Shri Rijiju said Arunachal Pradesh is poised for a giant leap in the developmental front with survey of 11 railway projects in the state going on, which will change the face of the state soon.

PM lays foundation stone of India’s first National Sports University

  • On 16th March, the Prime Minister launched development projects worth Rs. 750 crore in Manipur. He laid the foundation stone of the National Sports University, 1,000 Anganwadi Centres and several other important development projects. Speaking on the occasion, Shri Narendra Modi said the Union Government’s vision for the North East has been ‘Transformation by Transportation.’ The Prime Minister said that the North-East can be the New Engine of India’s growth. He said the Government is addressing the special needs of the North East to enable growth parity with the rest of the country. He remarked that he has himself visited the North East more than 25 times in the last four years.

Development of North East: Priority of the Government

  • The Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, at the inaugural session of Advantage Assam – Global Investors Summit 2018, held on February 03-04, 2018 in Guwahati, said that the North-East is at the heart of the Union Government’s Act East Policy. The Act East Policy envisions increased people to people contact, trade ties and other relations with ASEAN countries. He said all the schemes of the Union Government are oriented towards bringing about a qualitative change in the lives of the people. He said the aim is to improve “Ease of Living.”
  • On 13th June, the Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi approved the proposal of DoNER Ministry for the nomination of the Union Home Minister as ex-officio Chairman of North Eastern Council (NEC) – a statutory body with Governors and Chief Ministers of all the eight North Eastern States as its Member. The Cabinet also approved that Minister of State (Independent Charge), Ministry of DoNER would serve as Vice Chairman of the Council. Under the new arrangement, NEC can now perform the tasks undertaken by the various Zonal Councils to discuss such inter-State issues as drug trafficking, smuggling of arms and ammunition, boundary disputes etc. This repositioning of NEC will help it to become a more effective body for the North Eastern Region.
  • The Union Cabinet on 21st March approved the North East Industrial Development Scheme (NEIDS), 2017 with financial outlay of Rs.3,000 crores upto March, 2020. Government will provide necessary allocations for remaining period of scheme after assessment before March 2020. NEIDS is a combination of the incentives covered under the earlier two schemes with a much larger outlay. The overall cap for benefits under all components of incentives will be of Rs. 200 crores per unit. The newly introduced scheme shall promote industrialization in the States of the North Eastern Region and will boost employment and income generation.
  • On 8th February, a meeting was held to discuss the roadmap for 14 Northeast districts under the ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ programme. Major infrastructure projects taken up in the NER inter alia include Comprehensive Telecom Development Plan for the NER at an estimated cost of Rs.5,336.18 crore; Broad Gauging & Capital Connectivity Rail Projects; Comprehensive Scheme for Strengthening of Transmission & Distribution Systems (CSST&DS) in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim at an estimated cost of Rs.4754.42 crore; Bharatmala Pariyojana; North East Road Sector Development Scheme (NERSDS) etc.
  • The Government has given a big push to a diverse range of infrastructure projects in the North Eastern Region. The Government has laid emphasis on improving rail, road, air and inland waterways connectivity in the NER and with a host of power projects, the region is already on course to turning power surplus.
  • Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways is implementing the Special Accelerated Road Development programme for North East (SARDP-NE) under Bharatmala Pariyojana Phase-I, spanning over a period of five years (2017-18 to 2021-22), wherein roads of NER, aggregating to 3,528 kms have been included for improvement.
  • On 22nd February, an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAPs) was set up for the NER. This was decided after a meeting between Secretaries of DoNER and AYUSH.  The IMC will create synergy in various programmes of the Union Government to enable medicinal and aromatic plants sector become vibrant and develop the resources to its potential.
  • On February 18, Dr Jitendra Singh invited young Start-ups from all over India to come to Northeast and try their fortune through unexplored potentials of the region. Addressing a gathering of participants at the “Skill India” exhibition in Delhi, he said while all the avenues of livelihood and new ventures are gradually getting exhausted in other parts of the country and states, the immense unexplored avenues and potentials of North Eastern region are still available and beckoning the young entrepreneurs to come to North East.
  • MoS Dr Jitendra Singh​ on June 04, 2018 mooted for “Make in Northeast” initiative, as a follow-up to the “Make in India” initiative inspired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. He also offered to collaborate with all the stakeholders to give each of the eight states of the region an exclusive identity of its own, based on the unique product identified with each of these States.
  • On 29th May, Government announced the​ approval of  setting up of an exclusive “Brahmaputra Study Centre” at Guwahati University, Guwahati, for which a fund of about Rs. 28  crore has been provided by the Ministry of DoNER.
  • The newly appointed North-East member  of the National Commission for Women, Smt. Soso Shaiza, in a meeting with MoS Shri Jitendra Singh  on  3rd December, said that the National Commission for Women (NCW) will support Northeast livelihood programmes for women, particularly for those in younger age group, through Skill development and Specialized training, which can enable them to earn their living and also empower them as individuals
  • In another landmark initiative for the Northeast, MoS Dr Jitendra Singh laid the foundation stone of new Science Centre, the “Technology Facility Centre” (TFC), in the premises of the CSIR-North East Institute of Science & Technology (NEIST) in Jorhat, Assam on 29th October.
  • On 23rd April 23, Dr Jitendra Singh said that India’s “Act East” policy is crucial to the entire South East Asia. Speaking at a conference on “India-Myanmar Trade and Connectivity” organized by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations in New Delhi, he said Myanmar is one of the key pillars of India’s “Act East” policy, since through the land borders it connects India via the North Eastern States with the South East Asian countries.

 Tourism in NE states

  • To enhance tourism sector in North East, the DoNER Ministry has recommended to the Finance Ministry for higher fund allocation and special package for such projects in the NE region. In a meeting held on May 11, 2018 with Union Minister of State for Tourism (I/C), Shri K.J. Alphons,  MoS Dr Jitendra Singh said that under the ‘North East Special Infrastructure Scheme (NESIDS), the DoNER Ministry is providing financial assistance for projects of physical infrastructure relating to water supply, power, connectivity for promoting tourism in the region.  He said that this will be over and above the existing schemes of the Central and State governments of the NE region. Dr. Jitendra Singh said that under the North Eastern Council (NEC), work is underway for promotion of theme-based regional tourism circuits.
  • On 19th March, four MoUs were signed under aegis of Ministry of DoNER for promotion of tourism in the North-East, aimed at doubling tourist arrivals to the North East in the next three years. Another MoU was signed for leveraging of community resources and appropriate local resources based technology for development. After the signing of the agreements, Dr. Jitendra Singh said that the development of the North East Region is of prime importance for the overall inclusive growth of India, and tourism development has always been one of our key focus areas, keeping in mind the North East’s natural beauty and cultural heritage.
  • MoS Dr. Jitendra Singh on 14th October said the Northeast tourism has reached new heights in the last four years and this has been possible because of special thrust and impetus given by the Union government, with the direct indulgence of the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. The fast-track progress in providing connectivity to distant areas in the region has inspired tourists from far and wide to look forward to Northeast as a favourite holiday destination.
  • To further boost the tourism in North-East, the festival  ‘Experiencing North East’ depicting the uniqueness of North Eastern culture was held in New Delhi from 27th-31st October. The festival, a part of Destination North East series, was organised by North Eastern Council (NEC), Ministry of DoNER in collaboration with India International Centre.  The festival showcased the vibrant strengths of North East India and display its art, handicraft, handlooms, tourism, food, culture etc.

Other Achievements

  • On 31st May, DoNER Ministry announced that  Northeast students’ hostels in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi and Bangalore University were being built by the North East Council (NEC) and the DoNER Ministry. Another piece of land has been acquired at Rohini, Delhi where the construction of another hostel for students from Northeast will be undertaken, which will cater primarily to the students from Delhi University. At the same time a land spread over more than three acres has also been acquired at Dwarka in Delhi where a Northeast Convention-cum-Cultural Centre is proposed to be brought up.
  • In a review meeting of the “roadmap for implementation of Cabinet Approval of Schemes for North East Council” held on 3rd March, it was decided that North Eastern Cultural and Information Centre will come up in Delhi soon. The meeting reviewed the progress of various ongoing projects in the North East. As the Central government has been giving priority to the NE region, Dr Jitendra Singh said that this will be a new gift to the people of North East India. He said, the centre will act as a cultural convention and information hub of the northeastern region in Delhi.
  • A two-day  international seminar on “The Age of Multilateralism and Connecting India’s North East: Opportunities and Challenges” was jointly organized by the DoNER Ministry, the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) and Asian Confluence in Shillong, Meghalaya  on March 19-20, 2018. Addressing the seminar, MoS, Dr Jitendra Singh said that psychological outreach towards development of North East region is as important as physical outreach. The fast-track thrust by the Union Government, Dr Jitendra Singh said, has resulted in a sea-change by improving the connectivity scenario, both in air, rail and road connectivity, and this is bound to overcome many of the earlier constraints faced by the potential entrepreneurs.
  • MoS Dr Jitendra Singh addressed the Plenary Session of the International Conference on “Inclusive Tribal Congregation”, on  22nd February. Speaking on the occasion, the Minister said the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s dream of “New India” is inspired by equitable growth of each section of society, regardless of the socio-economic background. The government has envisaged for itself the objective of empowering the poor to enable them to eradicate their own poverty (18/12/2018)
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