Tripura CM demands initiatives to bridge gap of development in NE

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Agartala, May 14 (UNI) Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar has urged his counterparts of the other Northeastern states as well as the Centre to initiate target-oriented projects to bring the NE's development at par with other states of the country.

Terming the 56th plenary session of the North East Council (NEC), which concluded here yesterday, a ''historical event'', Mr Sarkar said the people of the region had waited for long for a comprehensive and pragmatic document Vision 2020 for development in all fronts.

He, however, lashed out at the Centre for downplaying the aspirations of the people of the NE and called upon the Centre to resolve the contentious issues related to development to ensure the growth at par with other parts of the country.

''The NE has not been suffering from lack of natural resources, but the attitude of the Centre has virtually undermined the sentiments of the people,'' Mr Sarkar said, adding that owing to the absence of proper infrastructure, the full potential of the NE region could not be tapped.

He asserted that if the development took place at par across the country, the NE would be able to contribute to the nation-building initiatives.

He also pointed out that lack of development was the root cause of the secessionist movements in the NE states, which could only be addressed through massive development programmes.

Mr Sarkar, like his other counterparts of the region, also took strong exception to the way the NEC budget allocation was being decreased and accused the Ministry of Development of Northeast Region (DoNER) of delay in implementing the projects.

He pointed out that the NEC budget for the fiscal 2008-09 was pegged at Rs 624 crore which was actually less than the budget allocations of Rs 40 or Rs 50 crore during the formative periods of the NEC and demanded to increase it to at least Rs 1,000 crore while asking to handed over the funds from Non Lapsable Central Pool directly to the NEC instead of DoNER.

Mr Sarkar added that Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, Manipur Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh, Arunachal Pradesh Governor Gen (Retd) J J Singh, Meghalaya Governor Dr S S Sidhu, Sikkim Governor Sudarshan Agarwal and Assam Planning Minister Pritvi Majhi had echoed the same sentiment and demanded to increase NEC budget.

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