Dimapur, Dec 9 (MExN): Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio today endorsed the Draft Approach Paper to the 11th Five Year Plan prepared by the Union Planning Commission, seeing in it policy-avenues for faster and more inclusive growth notwithstanding the “rather stiff targets” set for Nagaland. He also said that for Nagaland as far as the plan is concerned, the main thrust area would be agriculture and allied sectors.
“We particularly support and endorse the policies for faster and more inclusive growth and the measures proposed to achieve it” Rio acknowledged at the 52nd meeting of National Development Council at New Delhi December 9. “On going through the state-wise targets on various development indicators, we observe that Nagaland has also been given rather stiff targets” confessed Rio. “However, we heartily and sportingly accept the targets set for our state by the planning commission. We take it as a measure of the confidence the Planning Commission places on the growth potential of the state. On our part the state is eager to play its due part in the economic growth and development of this vast country of ours” the Chief Minister assured.
Informing the NDC of the state’s own “vision 2020” document which has been incorporated in the Human Development Report of Nagaland 2004, Neiphiu Rio said the main thrust area of the 11th Five Year Plan, as far as Nagaland is concerned, would be agriculture and allied sectors. Favorable land-man ratio, good rainfall and temperate climatic conditions and fertile soil are the buttress-points that Rio forwarded. “Horticulture, floriculture, sericulture, aromatic and medicinal plants, animal husbandry and bee keeping etc can be taken up on commercial scales with organic farming as an essential element to enhance its market value” he said.
Rio also emphasized on infrastructure and power development as ‘equally important’ thrust areas. NE express Highway linking all state capitals should now be made into reality and if necessary, with private partnership, he suggested. He called for construction of a railway line from Dimapur to Tizit “via the foothills of Nagaland” should be expedited he reminded. Rio also highlighted the state’s potential in power generation which he said, should be harnessed for power self-sufficiency at the grass-root level as well as to avoid high transmission loss and costs. Other priority areas that Rio highlighted included industrialization, trade and the ‘Look east policy’, youth empowerment and employment, micro-credit facilities and strengthening/widening the scope of “good practices,” border trade as well as road and bamboo.
Rio also raised certain issues of policy affecting the NE states particularly Nagaland. Among this is the recent change in the pattern of raising loans for financing development projects whereby states are required to raise the 10% loan component of schemes funded by NEC/NLCPR/CSS/NCA etc. This has caused considerable problems and delays in implementation and completion of projects; Rio said and called for reversal of the same. He also called for standardization of funding various CSS schemes and be fixed for all states at 90:10; working out of special incentives for attracting investments in the NE etc. Rio also lamented that the benefits of fund allocation by the Ministry of Tribal affairs under tribal sub-plans are not being extended to the “fully tribal” states on the region. Rio further called for special schemes for implementation through village councils.
On the ‘disappointing part’ of the story, Rio expressed discontentment that the much-hyped Prime Minister’s Package for Nagaland is still yet to be sanctioned to the state government, leading to non-implementation of proposals. On this, Rio, addressing NDC, the Chief Minister highlighted the following commitments in the package made by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his October 2003 visit to the state: revival of Tuli Paper Mill for Rs 555 Crore, four-lane National Highway-39 (Dimapur-Kohima) for Rs 400 Crore, creation of 25,000 employment avenues for youths of Nagaland for Rs 250 Crore, up-gradation of higher and school education for science education and facilities for the girl-child of Mon and Tuensang districts for Rs 250 Crore, a regional institute of information technology for Rs 10 Crore and extension of railway line from Dimapur to Kohima for Rs 20 Crore.
“I would request the honorable prime Minister’s intervention in expediting sanctions for the above projects so that commitment made from the highest executive office of the country are given due importance and respect by all concerned” Rio told the meeting.