Power starved NE states be given priority in power : Gogoi

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New Delhi, Dec 19 (UNI) Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today stressed the need for development of the existing Special Econmic Zone (SEZ) policy with suitable modification so that full Central support could be provided in the absence of private investment.

Addressing the 54th NDC meeting here, Mr Gogoi said the state government would like to develop industry in the state without compromising on the environment and ecological issues in a nature friendly manner to prevent migration from rural areas and consequent congestion of existing urban centers. To support this strategy we would have to develop growth centers all over the states and to impart new skills to the local manpower to sustan this development.

In the power sector there is an urgent need to increase the generation capacity, which is only 16 per cent of the present peak requirement. Transmission and distribution network has to be strengthened to deliver benefit to all sectors of development, particularly the agriculture sector and consumers in remote areas.

The existing non-functional generation units are to be made functional and new power generation plants are required to be established for which there is enough potential.

Mr Gogoi said suitable policy intervention should be made, if necessary, so that any surplus power generation through mega projects in the NER should first be made available on priority to the deficit areas of the region before its evacuation to outside states.

He urged upon the Planning Commission for granting adequate financial support to the autonomous hill councils and other plain councils in the state. This could be given through Special Central Assistance under the annual plans to equalise the benefit. The central assistance under HADP at present is provided to these councils to the tune of Rs 82.67 crores which needs to be enhanced to at least Rs 150 crore per year during the 11th plan period.

Mr Gogoi urged upon the Planning Commission that a special package similar to the package for Bodoland Territorial Council may be considered for these councils. The special assistance provided for the Tribal sub-plan and the Scheduled Caste sub-plan has been stagnant over the last several years and it should be suitably increased during the 11th plan, he added.

He said the norms set by the Planning Commission for taking up projects urder the JNNURM for the development of urban areas needs a fresh look for the NER as the population density is very low in this region.

UNI

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