GoM formed to study proposal abolishing northeast ministry

May 13th, 2008 - 3:39 pm ICT by admin  

Agartala, May 13 (IANS) The central government has constituted a Group of Ministers (GoM) to look into the recommendation by a reforms panel to abolish the Ministry for Development of the North Eastern Region (DoNER). The second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC), headed by former Karnataka chief minister and Congress leader M. Veerappa Moily, has recently recommended abolition of the DoNER ministry, which has Mani Shankar Aiyar as its minister.

“The GoM headed by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee would now examine the recommendation of the ARC and then the union government would take a final decision,” Aiyar told reporters here Tuesday.

Aiyar, who is also the chairperson of the North Eastern Council (NEC), said he is personally against the abolition of the DoNER ministry.

“There is huge scope to strengthen the DoNER ministry to effectively deal with a variety of development aspects of the northeast.”

“The responsibility of sanctioning funds from the non-lapsable central pool of resources should be entrusted to the NEC instead of DoNER ministry,” said the ARC report called Capacity Building for Conflict Resolution: Friction to Fusion.

DoNER was created in September 2001 by the erstwhile National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government to act as the nodal department to deal with development as well as funding for the eight northeastern states.

The issue came up during the plenary session of the NEC here Monday and Tuesday. The governors, chief ministers, ministers and senior officials of the eight northeastern states have attended the two-day NEC plenary session, chaired by Aiyar.

The 36-year-old NEC is now working as regional planning body and looks after the development of the eight northeastern states with a total population of 40 million.

“NEC should be strengthened further and DoNER should be abolished - there should not be any turban over the cap,” said Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar.

Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and his Manipur counterpart O. Ibobi Singh felt that DoNER must be abolished as it appears to be a ministry formed to look after only Assam at the cost of other states in the region.

Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga is also in favour of abolition of DoNER ministry and strengthening of the NEC.

“Since the NEC was set up in 1972 by an act of parliament, with chief ministers and governors of the eight states as its members, it should have the status and powers to make decisions and provide required funds for the development of the region,” Zoramthanga said.

The Assam government is, however, against the abolition of the DoNER ministry.

“We will never support any step that will harm the region or create hurdles in its development,” said Himanta Biswa Sharma, Assam government spokesperson.

The members of the ARC headed by Moily had visited the northeastern states from January to July last year to gather views of the state governments of the region.

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