Itanagar: Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday said the visible transformation of the northeast is a clear evidence of resurgence in the region’s pace of development which remained neglected for decades.

Addressing a special session of the Arunachal Pradesh legislative assembly, Naidu, while describing the transformation as “NER in NER (The new era of resurgence in the north-eastern region)”, said a new sense of direction and a distinct acceleration in the pace of development has begun.

“The setting up of the North-Eastern Council (NEC) in 1971 under an Act of Parliament marked a departure from the earlier approaches as it set in motion coordinated actions and policies for the development of the region. This resulted in significant gains but not enough to realise fully the potential of the region and its people,” he said.

The announcement of the ‘Look East Policy’ in the 1990s set the tone for integrated economic development of the region by forging connectivity with the neighbouring nations, Naidu said.

He said the policy got further thrust at the beginning of the century, when taking note of the gulf between the intentions and actions on the ground, the ‘Act East Policy’ was launched with a new intent and energy.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while pronouncing the Act East Policy in 2014, underlined that the northeast region would be its fulcrum under which the region would emerge as an effective growth engine for shared benefits,” he said, adding culture, commerce, connectivity and capacity building will propel the policy.

Naidu said the Centre has also been making sincere and dedicated efforts to end violence in the region by finding solutions to the legacy problems after talking to all concerned.

“As a result, there has been substantial improvement in the security scenario in the region. Compared to 2013, the insurgency related incidents declined by 70 per cent, civilian deaths by 80 per cent and casualties of security forces by 78 per cent in 2019. Signing of the path-breaking Karbi Anglong and Bodo agreements recently clearly indicates our collective commitment to heralding peace in the region,” he said.

He said, in the past, the problems of inadequate infrastructure and rising insurgency prevented private investment from flowing into the region, which deepened the development deficit. Moreover, he said, inadequate and inequitable development widened disparities among the people, especially in a region with wide ethnic diversity.

“Sustainable development can occur only if we can make it people-centric and environment sensitive. Democracy presupposes a central role for people’s active involvement in shaping their own destiny. Effective participation of communities in framing and execution of policies and projects is, hence, very important,” the vice president said.

Naidu said Arunachal Pradesh and other northeastern states have resolved to make a break from such a past so as to script a new future by molding the present in that direction. The plethora of infrastructure projects completed and in progress, and the evidence of socio-economic development is a clear indication of that, he said.

“A report of the Indian Chamber of Commerce published in 2013 had stated that the northeastern region, which is heavily dependent on agriculture and services sectors, stands way below in comparison with the rest of India in socio-economic indicators. But there seems to be a major difference now,” Naidu said.

The vice president said, in pursuit of its commitment to transforming the socio-economic development of the region, the Centre has undertaken several initiatives and interventions over the last 7 years. The gross budgetary support has been raised from Rs 36,000 crore for 2014-15 to over Rs 60,000 crore for 2021-22, marking an increase of 90 per cent.

To promote employment, 1.07 crore loan accounts were sanctioned with allocation of Rs 48,868 crore under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojna for the region, while 24,455 units were set up under the PM’s Employment Generation Programme to provide employment to 2 lakh people during 2017-20, Naidu said.

Under the Start-Up India Scheme, 3,449 SC and ST women beneficiaries were sanctioned Rs 715 crore, while 98,569 micro and small enterprises were sanctioned Rs 4,685 crore under Credit Guarantee Trust Fund, he said.

Altogether 108 air routes, including tourism routes were, sanctioned for the region under the UDAN scheme and 44 of them have been operationalised. Over 190 road projects have been sanctioned for the region, including 50 in Arunachal Pradesh, from the Central Road and Infrastructure Fund, Naidu said. Naidu said Niti Ayog has come out with the North-Eastern Region Sustainable Development Goals Index and Dashboard – 2021-22 for 103 districts of the region to enable focused interventions based on identified gaps.

The region as a whole has done well in respect of some goals like the ‘Life on the Earth’ and ‘Clean Water and Sanitation’ but needs to focus on other important goals like ‘Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure’ and ‘Quality Education’, he added.

He said the state government in conjunction with the Centre has to ensure eradication of extreme poverty, reduce regional disparities, achieve gender equality and bring about socio-economic transformation.

“We should continuously enrich human capabilities by upgrading the skills of our youth, improving the quality of education and focusing on improving health care systems. Our existing governance structures need to be revamped by making them more responsive and citizen-friendly through greater transparency, accountability and zero tolerance for corruption,” the vice president said.

“Greater digitalization can certainly make this transformation possible by reducing needless delays, diversion and dilution,” Naidu said.

Arunachal Pradesh, he said, has the potential to become the fruit basket of India due to its natural resource endowments. The frontier state can also become a global tourism destination because of its enchanting landscape. Naidu said the state can emerge as a sustainable powerhouse if its 58,000 mega watt hydro power potential is utilised.

The vice president also released a coffee table book on the occasion and dedicated Dorjee Khandu Auditorium to the people.

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