NITI Forum outlines five development missions for NE

Mein emphasises on connectivity

AGARTALA, Apr 10: The NITI Forum for North East on Tuesday outlined five development missions for promoting sectors like horticulture, tourism and food processing in the region, NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar said here on Tuesday.
Other missions will cover bamboo-based handicrafts and medium scale industries with focus on ‘Make in North-East’, he said.
Kumar said it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision to establish a regional NITI Aayog forum for the Northeastern states.
A regional forum for Himalayan and Coastal states will also be set up soon, he said.
Kumar was addressing the first meeting of the newly constituted forum here.
There has been outflow of resources of the Northeast to other parts of India, he said, adding that the states in the region “must bring back not only its resources but also additional resources. For that we will have to create employment opportunities in the region.”
There is a challenge to bring the Northeastern region into the mainstream and the central government is working to connect it with the rest of India, he said.
“To make Northeast more familiar in the rest of the country, one emporium would be set up in all the districts of the country, so that people can know about the products of the region,” Kumar added.
He also pointed out that in the 1950s, the per capita income of the Northeast was the highest in India.
DoNER Minister Jitendra Singh also spoke on the occasion.
Arunachal Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein gave emphasis on connectivity in the Northeast for all-round development of the region.
Referring to the Panch Tatva – the five elements to boost connectivity in the Northeast – railways, highways, airways, waterways, and ‘i-ways’ – of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mein said that connectivity has been the biggest constraint in the development of the region.
He also pressed for repair and reactivation of the Stilwell road to promote border trade in the region, and requested the Centre to work with the Myanmar government to encourage trade in the region.
“Roads are crucial for the success of agriculture, horticulture, hydropower and tourism sectors in Arunachal Pradesh,” the DCM said, adding that poor road connectivity is a major reason for poor market linkage for agri-horti produces of the state.
Mein also advocated introducing contract farming for spice crops like large cardamom and ginger in order to double farmers’ income. He further proposed establishing a Northeast bio-resource research and development centre in Arunachal Pradesh, “considering the biodiversity hotspots of the state,” adding that it would also cater to the needs of the region.
Highlighting the state’s hydropower potential, Mein sought the Centre’s support to the power developers with regard to environment, forest and other mandatory clearances for early implementation of the power projects.
He said the Arunachal Pradesh government is contemplating issuing termination notices to developers who have not adhered to timelines prescribed by the state government in the MoA.
Stressing the need to promote the Northeast as a single tourism destination, Mein proposed that the North East Tourism Development Council sign an MoU with tourism authorities and tour operator associations of the ASEAN countries to conduct tour packages connecting the whole NE region with the South East Asian countries.
Mein was accompanied by Planning Secretary Joram Beda and officials from the Arunachal Pradesh planning department. (With inputs from PTI)