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Address by Ved Marwah, Governor of Manipur
49th N.D.C. Meeting
, 1st September 2001, Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi.


Respected Prime Minister, Hon'ble Deputy Chairman, Hon'ble Chief Ministers, Hon'ble Ministers and Friends.

It is a privilege for me to participate in the 49th meeting of the National Development Council which is considering the draft approach paper to the Tenth Five Year Plan and other important agenda. We welcome and support the proposal for setting a target of 8% Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth per annum. We endorse wholeheartedly the proposed reduction of the regional disparities in social and economic attainments and adoption of a three-pronged approach.

2. As you are aware, Sir, states like Manipur were categorised as special category states due to the non-viable nature of the state's finances. It was recognised that the special category states have a low resource base and are, therefore, not in a position to mobilise resources for their developmental needs. Whiie upgrading some of them from a single district, union territory to full-fledged states, they were required to create an infrastructure that was out of proportion to their resource base. t understand that we in Manipur lag behind the rest of the country by as much as 21 % in respect of infrastructure development as per index of the relative development of infrastructure prepared by the Centre for Monitoring of Indian Economy.

3. While announcing certain initiatives for the development of the North-East region in 1996, the Govt. of India had recognised and followed it up by setting up a high level commission under the chairmanship of Shri S.P. Shukia to determine and identify gaps in the infrastructure and backlog in basic minimum services. The Planning Commission is aware that the Shukia Commission had identified the gaps and recommended a total of Rs.27,392 crores for removing regional disparities and bringing the North-East region at par with the rest of the country. The share of Manipur was recommended at Rs.3573.25 crores for the Ninth Plan period. I am afraid, adequate investments have not been forthcoming and the North East region, including Manipur, continues to suffer from gross regional disparities. Mr. Prime Minister, Sir, allow me the liberty to emphasise that these regional disparities and the resultant large scale unemployment is at the very root of insurgency and social unrest in the North-eastern states, including Manipur. The Tenth Plan will need to address this issue in all seriousness.

4. We are all aware that historically the economy of the North-East region was very closely inter-linked with that of the neighbouring countries tike Myanmar and Bangladesh. Unfortunately, partition of the country in 1947 has not only deprived access to ports like Chittagong, but has also cut off the land route through Bangladesh, thus, considerably increasing the distance between locations in the North-East region and the rest of India. These historic changes have had an adverse impact on the economies of the landlocked North-eastern states. There is, therefore, a crying need for special diplomatic and political initiatives to re-integrate the economies of the North-eastern states with that of the neighbouring countries particularly with that of Myanmar and Bangladesh. This can be achieved, to some extent, by the upgradation and the extension of the railway line from Kolkata to Dhaka and Silchar. and thereafter from Jiribam to Imphal and Moreh onto Myanmar. It can subsequently be extended to Bangkok and Singapore. Linked to this, may I request, Sir, that a decision on the extension of the super highway from Siichar in south Assam to Imphal and Moreh on the Indo-Myanmar border be expedited. If these two projects are implemented during the Tenth Five Year Plan directly by the Central Govt, they are expected to catalyse trade with the neighbouring countries and revive the stagnant economies of the North-East region. We are hopeful that such projects will generate considerable employment for the growing number of our unemployed youth.

5. Allow me, Sir, to also propose that the Central Govt. expedite implementation of the Tipaimukh Hydro Electric project which will generate 1500 MW of power, prevent the annual flooding of vast areas in the Barrak Valley, create vast irrigation potential and provide employment to a large number of people in one of the most remote areas of the North-East region.

6. While we support placing Uttaranchal on the list of special category states, we do not favour any consequent reduction in the share of funds of the already resource starved special category states, it is, therefore, suggested that the pool of resources for allocation of Central Assistance to the special category states be enhanced from 30% to 35%. This will not only ensure that Uttaranchal gets a fair share of development funds but will also supplement the meagre resources of the other special category states.

7. The Centrally Sponsored Schemes are a source of funding for critical areas of development and creation of employment opportunities. While endorsing the decision to weed out schemes which have lost their relevance and to merge similar schemes, we are in favour of continued central funding with a special thrust on generation of larger employment opportunities. It may be recalled, Sir, that in recent times decisions have been taken for down-sizing the Govt. These will further impact on the already serious unemployment situation. It is, therefore, imperative that the review of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme is expedited and positive action taken for modifying the Centrally Sponsored Schemes in a manner that maximum employment opportunities in the non-govt. sector are generated.

8 We are all aware of the recent Supreme Court intervention suggesting that the huge surplus foodgrain stocks be utilised effectively for creating employment and providing nutrition to those who cannot afford it. To my mind, this is an important area in which considerable progress can be made for generating vast employment opportunities, creating durable community assets and utilising the surplus foodgrain stocks which are reportedly deteriorating in the FCI godowns across the country.

9. Before concluding, may I suggest that in so far as the special category states are concerned this august Council may consider the restoration of the pre-1989 method of neutralising negative BCR by providing Additional Central Assistance to them by way of special consideration and in view of the devastating adverse impact of the implementation of the Fifth Pay Commission recommendations on the finances of the States. We are all painfully aware that implementation of the revised pay scales has eroded the financial position of the states to such an extent that the implementation of the development and welfare programmes have practically stopped. Restoration of the pre-1989 method is, therefore, an unavoidable necessity.

Thank You