Panel wants ‘imaginative solution’
The Planning Commission has called on the authorities to find “imaginative solutions” for the Northeast in the forthcoming Twelfth Plan to deal with the region which has special challenges.
The commission, in its draft approach paper to the Plan, says the Northeast needs special application, as it has enormous development potential, but its growth has been slow.
“The low levels of private investments in the region are because of the perception of limited opportunity and difficult logistics and access. Development of infrastructure, better connectivity, greatly improved access to trade with the rest of the country and Look East window to Bangladesh and Southeast Asia will yield rich results. These are complex and sensitive issues for which imaginative solutions must be found during the Twelfth Plan,” it says.
The draft approach paper was approved last month.
Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, along with senior officials, had visited Guwahati in the first week of July to include views from the region.
The Federation of Industry and Commerce of North Eastern Region (Finer) has already called for an exclusive five year plan for the Northeast to address the issue of regional imbalance with the rest of the country.
On the potential for development of hydropower in Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and other states of the region, it said: “The pace of capacity creation in this area has been slow and it is vital that special emphasis be given to expedite environmental and other clearances, so that the pace of work on these hydro-electric power projects can be stepped up. Early completion of these projects will also generate an income stream for the Northeast which will enable them to accelerate the pace of development.”
Another important area is upgrading and expansion of the transmission grid in the region, so that it can both receive and transfer power to the rest of the country.
“A special project on power evacuation from the Northeast will have to be undertaken. The possibility of such lines passing through Bangladesh could be considered, reflecting our mutually beneficial inter-dependence,” it said.
The draft has laid stress on development of road infrastructure which is critical for the completion of several power projects because movement of heavy equipment to remote areas is not possible without good road links.
The commission said the “Look East Policy” should lead logically to special efforts at developing road connectivity to Thailand, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
Development of waterways transport will also generate economic activity and investments need to be promoted in this sector, it said.
Tourism is another high potential area, the draft said.