NEC budget not sufficient: Mizoram Gov'nor

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Aizawl, May 12 (UNI) Mizoram Governor Lt Gen (Retd) M M Lakhera said Rs 624 crore allocated for the NEC for the fiscal 2008-09 is too little and urged all NE states to press the Centre to increase the budget to the proposed Rs 1,200 crore.

Addressing the 56th NEC meeting at Agartala today, Mr Lakhera said, ''Unless the fund allocation under the 11th Five Year Plan for this fiscal is increased, it will be impossible for the NER Vision 2020 and other development projects to materialise in the region.

While appreciating the poverty alleviation programmes for the Northeast, Mr Lakhera stressed that priority shoud be given to agriculture, horticulture, floriculture and agro-based industries.

The Mizoram governor highlighted that rubber and coffee are the ideal commercial crops to eradicate poverty in Mizoram.

''A Rs 13.51 crore project for rubber cultivation in Mizoram has been submitted to the NEC. The Coffee Board has also identified Mizoram as the only suitable place in the NE for large-scale cultivation of Arabica Coffee,'' he said.

In the IT sector, Mr Lakhera said, Mizoram government has planned to train 400 youths within two years, while a Rs 2.60 crore project for IT development would soon be submitted to the NEC.

Mizoram Governor also stressed the need for utilisation of satellite to study the geology of Mizoram to explore its natural resources, and urged the NEC to allocate fund for the same.

Touching upon the poor air connectivity in Mizoram, Mr Lakhera pointed out that the NEC had not responded to the detailed project report for an air strip near Lunglei in southern Mizoram and that for upgradation of Lengpui Airport in Aizawl.

''When we undertake big projects, we usually look for profits.

But, if that is all we are looking for then the NE will remain backward,'' Mr Lakhera said and added that it is time that the development of this country be measured by that of this region.

UNI ZS LL NY CS1747

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