Fate of northeast development ministry hangs in balance

March 30th, 2008 - 2:04 pm ICT by admin  

By Syed Zarir Hussain
Guwahati, March 30 (IANS) A recommendation by a federal reforms panel to abolish the Ministry for Development of the North Eastern Region, or DoNER, has evoked mixed response in the region of 40 million people seeking better economic opportunities and faster development. The second administrative reforms commission headed by Congress leader M. Veerappa Moily has recommended that DoNER must be abolished and all responsibilities of the ministry must be handed over to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

The commission contended that during visits by its members to the northeastern region, they got the sense that people who matter were not keen on having a set- up like DoNER operate from New Delhi and were said to have instead favoured the revamp of the Shillong-based North Eastern Council (NEC).

“The Ministry of DoNER may be abolished and the responsibility for the development of the region, including the infrastructure sectors, and utilisation of the non-lapsable fund (all ministries were required to allocate 10 percent of its funds to DoNER for use in the region) should be restored to the subject matter ministries, with the MHA acting as the nodal ministry,” the commission said.

DoNER also did not have in-house expertise to effectively monitor different projects and schemes and after the formation of this ministry, many other ministries, it is thought, have stopped taking an active interest in the region.

The recommendation has drawn flak from several political leaders in the region, including Congress MPs.

“There is no question of abolishing DoNER. After all, this is a ministry created and meant to devote its energy on the region. We shall oppose any such move,” Kirip Chaliha, Lok Sabha MP from Guwahati, told IANS.

BJP MP from Arunachal Pradesh Khiren Rijiju also opposed the idea of doing away with DoNER.

DoNER was created by the NDA government under prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in 2001 and is currently headed by Sports Minister Mani Shankar Aiyer.

However, not everyone in the region is happy with DoNER.

“I think DoNER must be abolished because it appears to be a ministry created to look after Assam at the cost of smaller states in the region,” said Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio.

Rio said nearly 80 percent of funds released by DoNER go to funding projects and schemes in Assam.

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