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Development of North East Region

Context

Prime Minister has recently said that the growth of India is incomplete without the growth of East and North East Regions

Fast fact about North East

  • North East is connected to the rest of the country through a narrow corridor called the chicken neck, near Siliguri.
  • North East is surrounded by Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Nepal and Myanmar. It is strategically important for India
  • Only about 30 – 35 % of the area of North East is plain land, mostly in three valleys namely the Brahmaputra, the Barak, and Imphal valleys.The rest of the area is hilly land.

Reasons for low progress in North Eastern Region

  1. Geographical
  • Very high rainfall, shifting river courses, poor drainage system and narrow valleys are regularly causing severe floods, erosion, landslides and sand deposition in the North East causing loss of huge areas of valuable agricultural land.
  • Hilly, inaccessible and undulating terrain has led to underdeveloped transport links.
  • Large area of land is under ‘Jhum cultivation’ which leads to large scale deforestation resulting in soil erosion and loss of soil fertility.
  1. Political
  • Chinese Aggression on Arunachal Pradesh (called NEFA at that time) in 1962, apparently refrain large scale investment from private player in North East.
  • Large scale Migration from Bangladesh led to various socio-economic- political problem
  • The culture of ‘bandhs’ is peculiar problem of NER, widely prevalent in Assam, Manipur and Nagaland.
  • Three fourth of NER have no proper land records and Individual ownership of land is not well established
  1. Social
  • Remarkable growth of migration from the North East to different parts of the country mostly in search of education and job opportunities gives big blow to the local society.
  • Drug abuse is a serious problem among youth of North east with more than 30% of its youth being drug abusers.
  • The pandemic of HIV/AIDS, spreading fast in Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram, is also a matter of grave concern.
  • Migration from surrounding areas of NERs (Bangladesh and states of Bihar and Bengal) reduced the average size of land holding to about one hectare.
  1. Economic
  • Tax collection and internal resources of NERs are quite meagerthis increasesdependence on central devolution.
  • Financial management is inefficient which resulted in leakage of funds
  • Production conditions in agriculture are traditional, agricultural productivity is lowest, low coverage of irrigation, and low application of chemical fertilizers
  1. Infrastructural
  • Poor state of basic infrastructural facilities like roadways, waterways, and energy as well as social infrastructure like educational institutions, health facilities etc.
  • NER has about 6% of the national road and 13% of the national highways. The railway network is only 4% of India’s rail network.
  1. Governance
  • The fund utilization capacity of NE states is poor. This led to low release of fund. In MGNREGA the expenditure during 2016-17 in Assam and Manipur was only 1630 and 4953 per rural poor, against Rs 15657 in Kerala.
  • Many projects in NER arelanguishing due toproblemsrelated to land acquisition and forest clearance, prevailing law and order situation and limited working season due to high rainfall.
  • Weak Administrative capacity and organizational structure

Steps Taken by government

  1. Ministry of Development of North East Region (MDoNER) established in 2001.
  • It functions as the nodal Department of the Central Government to deal with matters related to the socio-economic development of the eight states of NER.
  • It acts as a facilitator between Central Ministries/ Departments and the State Governments of NERs.
  1. North Eastern Region Community Resource Management Project (NERCORMP)
  • Its objective isto improve the livelihood of vulnerable groups in a sustainable manner
  • NERCORMP is a joint initiative of the North eastern Council, Ministry of DoNEARand International fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
  1. NITI Forum for North East
  • It is tasked to identify various constraints on the way of accelerated, inclusive and sustainable economic growth in NER of the country and to recommend suitable interventions for addressing identified constraints.
  • This forum will be co-chaired by the Vice-Chairman of NITI Aayog and MDoNER
  1. North East Special Infrastructure Development Scheme
  • It aims to fill the gaps in creation of infrastructure in physical (water supply, power connectivityetc.) and social sectors projects (education and health).
  1. North-East Industrial Development Scheme (NEIDS)
  • Government is incentivizing primarily the MSME Sector through this scheme

  1. Act East Policy
  • Connecting North East with the East Asian countries will automatically increase the flow of men, materials, technology and ideas from and to the North East.
  • some of the major initiative includesthe Kaladan Multi Modal transit transport Project, the Rih-Tedim Road Project and Border Haats.
  1. Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Medical and Aromatic Plants (MAPs)s
  • The IMC is to create synergy in various progrsammes of the Union Government to enable MAPs sector to become vibrant and develop the resources to its potential.
  • It suggests actionable measures for enhancing the livelihood and economic transformation based on cultivation and sustainable management of MAPs resource
  1. All non-exempt Union Ministries are required to mandatorily allot 10% of their Gross Budgetary Allocation (GBA) annually for NER.
  2. Increased Infrastructure Investment
  • Launch of projects like first ever train Mendipathar in Meghalaya to Guwahati in Assam, India’s longest bridge 9.15 km Dhola-Sadiya Bridge in Assam, laying of Foundation stone of IIIT Guwahati have accelerated the pace of development in North East.
  • Government enhanced its focus to increase air connectivity to the NER
  • Investment in hydel power especially in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
  1. The Union Government has sanctioned several tourismprojects in NERs topromote eco-tourism and adventure tourism.
  2. Launched National Bamboo Mission
  • To increase the coverage of area under bamboo in potential areas, with improved varieties to enhance yields;
  • To promote marketing of bamboo and bamboo-based handicrafts;
  1. Introduced skill development mission
  • Assam State Livelihood Mission in Assam, Meghalaya State Skill Development society have opened up new avenues for the youth in the North
  1. Global Investors’ summit, 2018
  • Global Investors’ summit, 2018, in Guwahati, showcased the NERs investment potential to countries in South and South East Asia
  1. Peace accord signed with Rebel group
  • The Mizoram Accord was signed between the Mizo National Front and the Government of India in 1985
  • The Centre and NSCN (IM) had signed a peace accord in 2015.
  1. Bezbaruah Committee
  • Committee looks into concerns of the persons from North Eastern States who are living in different parts of the country, especially the Metropolitan areas, and to suggest suitable measure which could be taken by the government.

Way Forward

  1. The large number of youths who are very fluent in English can make the policy makers go a big way setting up BPOs in the region.
  2. North East is very rich in culture and there is great talent among the youth of the region in music, dancing and painting etc. Government should create employment opportunities in these fields.
  3. There should be special drives for increasing the intake of North East youth in railways, nationalized banks, central para-military forces including Assam rifles, airlines, oil refineries and other big central public sector undertakings.
  4. Setting up small and medium scale industries based on huge quantities of bamboo, cane, jute, paddy husk and medicinal plants.
  5. Implementation of Bezbaruah committee report and taking proactive steps would provide a safe social environment of mutual respect and understanding for migrant people of NER to different part of country.
  6. People of NER should stand up against the negative culture of ‘Bandhs’ issued and hold their state governments accountable for poor governance
  7. Central government should take necessary steps to solve the problem of migration and ethnic insurgencies in North East Region.
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