Northeast seeks special package for industry, tourism

January 19th, 2012 - 7:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Pranab Mukherjee Agartala/Itanagar, Jan 19 (IANS) The northeastern states have asked for a special “connectivity and communication package” to attract investment and boost tourism and industrial development in the region, officials said Thursday.

“The centre must announce a connectivity and communication package for the northeastern states, without which there will be little possibility of industrialisation and investment to this industry-starved region,” said a senior official in Agartala.

He was briefing reporters on the state finance ministers’ pre-budget meeting with Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi Wednesday.

The ministers at the meeting called for building adequate road links to the scattered hamlets in the mountainous northeastern region.

“The Prime Minister’s Grameen Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) as it stands now provides for connectivity to villages with a minimum population of 500. This norm may be brought down to 100 so that tribal hamlets, which dot the entire northeast and which typically have less than 500 inhabitants, get road connectivity,” said Tripura Finance Minister Badal Choudhury.

His speech was read out in his absence by R.K. Vaish, special resident commissioner of the state in Delhi.

Choudhury said the infrastructure projects including rail, highways, telecom which had been announced should be completed expeditiously by making adequate budgetary provisions.

Choudhury, according to the official, said a set of incentives to attract domestic and foreign investment in the northeast must be announced by the central government so that this region could come up to the level of other industrialised states.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma requested Mukherjee to declare a special package to further develop industry and tourism in the northeastern region.

On rising unemployment in the region, the official quoted the ministers as saying that total dependence on the private sector in this regard may not be desirable.

“Moreover, in northeast, private sector is almost non-existent and state governments have to shoulder much of the burden of education and health care to name a few. Lack of employment opportunities would give rise to serious social unrest.”

Arunachal Pradesh Finance Minister Chowna Mein asked for a special package to the state during the 12th Plan period (2012-13 to 2016-2017) to boost the agriculture sector.

“Government should also provide for 150 days of wage employment to the rural people under MGNREGA. Daily wage under the scheme may also be indexed to inflation,” he said.

Senior officials of other northeastern states were present at the meeting.

— Indo-Asian News Service

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