New Delhi: The infrastructure in the Northeastern region has witnessed unprecedented transformation in the past few years, Union minister of state for development of the north eastern region (DoNER) Dr Jitendra Singh claimed in Parliament earlier this week.
In an important statement made in Rajya Sabha on Thursday – that, however, went largely unreported – Dr Singh said, “The transformation that has happened in the Northeast is to be seen to be believed!”
The minister was responding to a starred question on projects undertaken to improve physical infrastructure on connectivity, power, water supply, tourism promotion and social infrastructure under North East Special Infrastructure Development Scheme (NESIDS) in the region, including Assam. The details about the projects’ status and costing were sought by BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP from Assam, Kamakhya Prasad Tasa.
“The NESIDS was launched in December 2017. And earlier these states, which include eight states of the Northeastern region and three states of the hill region, viz. Himachal Pradesh, erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand, were getting 90:10 funding from the Centre compared to 60:40 for the other states. But after this decision, this has been made 100% for the Northeast,” the minister said in his response in the Upper House.
Elaborating on some of the important infrastructure projects completed in the region, the minister added, “If you want it sector-wise, this discussion will go on for a very long time. But I would just say to sum up, for example, we had two states like Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya where people had never seen a train. Today you have an Itanagar to Delhi train called the Arunachal Express. We didn’t have an airport in Sikkim though the state has been a part of India for the last 40 years. Today we have an airport in Pakyong.”
The minister further declared that several ‘first of their kind’ schemes in the country were also launched especially for the region. In this regard, he cited the example of the North East Road Sector Development Scheme that was launched in the 2016 financial year after the government decided to address the issue of “orphan roads” or highways between two states that were completely neglected. Some important road construction projects have since been identified and entrusted to National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corp. Ltd (NHIDCL) for implementation.
Lok Sabha MP from Udhampur, Dr Singh also holds the additional charge of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Personnel Public Grievances and Pensions, Department of Atomic Energy and Department of Space. Reported to be close to Prime Minister Modi, Dr Singh is also sardonically referred to as a “very busy man” by his parliamentary counterparts from the Northeast.