State editors raise Manipur issues in Delhi meet

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    NEW DELHI, October 29 (MIC): Union Finance Minister Pranab Kumar Mukherjee declared banking facilities being made available to the people at rural areas of the country. Efforts are being made to enable everyone open bank accounts with the various branches of State Bank of India.

    Inaugurating the two-day Annual Economic Editors’ Conference 2010 at the National Media Centre, Shastri Bhawan in New Delhi on October 26, Mukherjee said ‘the areas which do not have banking facilities will be covered by mobile banking service’.

    The Editor of Ireibak Irengbam Arun and the Editor of Manipur Mail Ningthoukhongjam Sanatomba representing Manipur drew the attention of the Union Minister on the pitiable condition in which Manipuris were living. ‘In Manipur, large number of banks has been closed down. Old men & women in their seventies and eighties stand in front of the SBI, Imphal forming one hundred meter long queues to get their monthly pension. Elsewhere in different parts of the country one can open bank account by depositing Rs. 500, but SBI, Imphal demands Rs. 5000/- in opening bank account.’

    After hearing the complaint the Finance Minister assured to look into the matter.

    Union Power Minister Sushil Kumar Sindhe who also addressed the conference said power generation had increased manifold. Above one lakh MW is generated and all 85,000 villages in the country will be electrified by 2012.

    The two scribes representing Manipur in the conference urged the Union Minister to look into the dismal power supply prevailing in Manipur. ‘Not a single unit has been added since the commissioning of Loktak Hydro Electric Project in the late seventies. The project generates around 90 MW during the rainy season 40-60 MW during the lean season. Heavy load sheddings have been imposed. Power consumers receive only 6 hours electricity in a day.’

    The Union Minister also stated that Tipaimukh project in Manipur had received clearance from the Forest Ministry. He expressed the confidence that environmental clearance would also be received soon.

    Union Surface & Transport Minister Kamal Nath said funds had been sanctioned for upgradation of National Highway No. 53. More funds are on the avail for the said road. The Ministry has received complaints from the Govt. of Manipur over the handing over of the construction of the NH 53 to the BRO. He said BRO will continue to remain as construction agency of the road as state PWD will be handicapped to take up the mammoth task.

    Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said a committee had been set up to check fund diversion, if there be any in NE region particularly in Manipur. He declared the areas where the plan money would be invested. He said 12th Plan would be formulated. A Web site had been launched. General public can submit suggestions, he added.

    Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said a committee consisting of the representatives of Finance Ministry, Planning Commission & Agriculture Ministry had been set up which could allocate funds for strengthening of river embankment. But no complaint regarding strengthening of river embankment has been received from the Govt. of India.

    Murli Deora, Union Minister for Petroleum & Natural Gas said oil & cooking gas scarcity in Manipur was being looked after seriously by the Union Government at the highest level including Prime Minister’s Office. He linked the scarcity in Manipur with the recent shut down on the National Highways and frequent occurrence of natural calamities that rendered the roads unusable.

    Union Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee when she was asked about the delay in taking up Jiri Tupul rail line, said if the work had started the completion would follow. She also said the Railways Ministry noted the importance on the construction of the rail line.

    In the two-day Conference held on October 26-27 in New Delhi, the two scribes from Manipur threw a volley of questions to the Union Ministers concerning to the development of Manipur. About 300 economic editors and financial writers including more than 60 editors from vernacular press across the country participated at the Editors Conference, sources added.

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