DoNER rules out slowdown of projects

NEW DELHI, June 18 — Acknowledging cuts in North Eastern Council’s (NEC) plan allocation, the Ministry of DoNER has ruled out the possibility of slowdown in project work, citing improved financial position of the States and assistance from external agencies.

Responding to the apprehension expressed by the Chief Ministers of the North Eastern States (NES), over drastic cuts in Plan allocation during the 11th Plan period, the Minister for DoNER, Bijoy Krishna Handique said that with the available funds, the State’s own budget and resources available with the Ministry, there should not be any substantial loss of the momentum for implementation of the NEC projects.

Handique, addressing a press conference at the end of the two-day 60th Plenary of the NEC, further said that they have been informed that henceforth all roads in the North-east would be constructed on the engineering procurement mode rather than BOT (Toll), which proved to be a failure in the region.

On the issue of fund cuts, Secretary DoNER, Jayati Chandra admitted that because of lowering of revenue availability, whatever is allocated every year for the annual plan exercise has shown a downward slide.

But she argued that when they prepare annual plan, it is done in anticipation of funds flow from various organisations and not necessarily from NEC funding but State Government’s own resources and private investments. There has been substantial growth in State’s own annual plan, she added.

“When a Plan is projected, allocations are based on anticipated revenue position of the Government of India. We prepare a plan but the actual allocation is based on the assessment made by Government of India. There is always a gap because we always like to have a projection”, the Secretary said.

However, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said, “The Planning Commission has allocated Rs 7,394 crore for NEC during 11th Plan. The allocation is inadequate to address the hopes and aspirations of the region.

According to Meghalaya Chief Minister, Dr Mukul Sangma, NEC had proposed an 11th plan outlay of Rs 12,487.54 crore. However, the final outlay for entire five year period of 11th Plan (2007-2012) was fixed at Rs 3,248.50 crore.

Meanwhile, allaying apprehension over the fate of the funding of the ADB road project in the region , the Ministry for DoNER has said that pre-negotiation discussions have already being held. The ADB-appointed third-party monitors have already seen the project and cleared it.

The 433 km of road connecting six States of the region is proposed to be upgraded with ADB loan.

The Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the Rs 1,353 crore is already cleared. The ADB loan functioning is expected to be cleared within a month and the project is expected to be rolled out in August.

“We don’t anticipate any further problems,” said the Secretary.

The Minister for DoNER said that the Railway Ministry has apprised the NEC about the current status of all important projects including the gauge conversion project between Lumding-Silchar and Bogibeel rail-cum-road project. The two projects are expected to be completed by December 2013 and April 2015, respectively.

Meanwhile, the Minister said that the Chief Ministers expressed great deal of consternation over the poor coverage and quality of telecom services in the North-east.