Mein calls for urgent development of areas near int’l borders

NEW DELHI, 30 Dec: Arunachal Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein called for urgently developing the areas near international borders, during the pre-budget meeting of the central government convened by union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman here on Thursday.

“We have seen unprecedented growth in the border infrastructure during the last 5-7 years. However, the depopulation of border areas for want of better infrastructure is a reality and poses a serious challenge in the background of a series of model villages and infrastructure being developed across the border with the aim to increase the population,” he said.

The DCM informed that the state government is pursuing a composite proposal for the border areas, including multiple projects like construction of roads, supplying drinking water, developing the health and education infrastructure, and installing micro hydel projects and solar streetlights.

“Once sanctioned, this project would provide much better infrastructure in the border areas, with resultant boost in the economic activities encouraging the people to return to their native places,” he said, and requested the Centre for early clearance of these projects, which are under consideration of the home affairs ministry.

Further, reiterating the unavailability of funding from multilateral development banks and other international financing institutions to Arunachal, he requested the finance ministry to “consider an appropriate mechanism to fortify the state against the capital, technical and opportunity losses.”

He suggested to the Centre to consider providing project-specific grants at the rate of Rs 1,500 crores per year under any window similar to the erstwhile Special Plan Assistance. As an alternative, he proposed an interest-free 50-year loan at the rate of Rs 1,500 crores per year over and above the normal borrowing limits prescribed by the FRBM Act for consideration.

Mein also sought flexibility for the NE states in “designing customized projects in sectors where the ministries are not able to spend 10 percent gross budgetary support (GBS) on their earmarked schemes and programmes in the NE region, and funding from the balance of 10 percent GBS.”

“This will ensure increased capital expenditure in NE and would not distort the inter se allocations within the specified sectors,” he said.

The DCM suggested developing the manufacturing capacity in the region to create jobs, and impressed upon the Centre to “facilitate creation of investor-friendly frameworks and a specific policy on the lines of Jammu and Kashmir or the hill states for the NE region.”

He further requested the Centre to set up a special task force for improving trade, connectivity and economic infrastructure in the Northeast region “for providing specific and actionable recommendations for the next ten years.”

Mein also requested for “doubling of allocations under the schemes of the North Eastern Council, the DoNER and the Border Area Development Programme from the current very low levels.”

The DCM was accompanied by Planning Commissioner Prashant Lokhande. (DCM’s PR Cell)