'Massive investment for NE in 11th 5 year plan'

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Guwahati, Oct 8: The volume of investment for infrastructure development in North East will increase further in the 11th five-year and the region will be taken to a position from where it can benefit from the thrust the Centre was putting on its 'Look East Policy'.

Stating this at a conference here today, Deputy Chairman of the National Planning Commission Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, however, added that the NE has to increase its 'absorption capacity' to derive the maximum benefit from the massive investment the region would see.He was participating in the three-day conference on 'India's Look East Policy Challenges for Sub-Regional Cooperation' on the second day today.

The conference organised jointly by the ministry of External Affairs, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, Delhi, and Omeo Kumar Das Institute of Social Change and Development, Guwahati, was inaugurated by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherji yesterday.

Underlining that the NE was a distinct and very important region for the country's economic growth, Dr Ahluwalia said critical issues of NE will be addressed in the 11th five-year plan. He said NE's location as the furthest east point of the country could be used to its benefit and the states must keep this in mind in their long-term plans.

With globalization, corners could become springboards for opening up the economy of a country, he added.

The Deputy Chairman said the Centre had been ensuring mobilization and diversion of resources to NE, but the region's performance in the utilization of resources left much to be desired.

He said all Central ministries have to compulsorily earmark 10 per cent of their plan money for NE and the funds that remain unspent were diverted to a non-lapsable fund.

Of the Rs 10,400 crore that found its way into the non-lapsable fund during the 10th five-year plan, only Rs 4,660 crore was spent, Dr Ahluwalia informed, adding that the rest of the money remained unspent due to lack of proposals and projects. The North East Council (NEC), which basically funds development projects, has a separate budget of Rs 600 crore annually, the Planning Commission Deputy Chairman mentioned.

Moreover, the centre's percentage share in the state GDP had gone up from 9.1 per cent in 2002 to 10.6 per cent in 2006-07, though the percentage, which was already much low for non-special category states, went down further to 1.9 per cent during the same period. Dr Ahluwalia said Rs 80,490 crore was invested in NE during the 10th five-year plan, but better assurance was needed that the funds would be used properly. The region won't suffer due to lack of funds but its absorption capacity hadalso to increase, he emphasized.


UNI

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