NEW DELHI, October 22 (MIC): Pointing out that the process of economic planning for balanced growth was not an easy task for a vast and varied country like India, Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh stated that the process of planning should aim at providing need-based development for each region in a manner that would strengthen national objectives.
Attending the meeting of the 56th National Development Council held here at Vigyan Bhavan today which was presided over by the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, Manipur Chief Minister mentioned a few special requirements of Manipur which had to be addressed during the 12th Five Year Plan period.
Ibobi Singh said that Manipur had benefited substantially during the 11th Five Year Plan period, in terms of providing better infrastructure and health care, better education facilities, rural roads, rural housing and creation of employment generation through many national flagship programmes. He emphasized the need for strengthening human resource and physical infrastructure during the 12th Plan period to enable the North eastern states to respond effectively and catch up with the rest of the country.
He further stated that the large agricultural potential especially that of horticulture in the North eastern region had remained unexploited and suggested that with proper planning and efficient delivery system, the hill areas of the North Eastern Region could flourish with orchard and plantation crops.
He said that in the context of the North Eastern Region, the Approach Paper needed to take into account conservation of the eco-systems and effective management of large water bodies like Loktak Lake and 19 identified water bodies of Manipur, which sustained not only the Loktak Hydro Electric Project and a large population of fishermen, but also provided sanctuary to rare species of wild life.
Manipur Chief Minister stated that in respect of infrastructure development programmes, seamless connectivity through road development assumed particular importance. There was a need for more extensive road network and improvement of existing roads especially in the North East.
Chief Minister Ibobi Singh reiterated that top priority be accorded by the ministry of Road Transport and Highways and the Boarder Road Organization to the completion of National Highway- 53 by 2013 and National Highway- 39 by 2014 as these two national highways were the lifeline of Manipur beside being the backbone of the proposed Trans-Asian Highway.
Ibobi Singh drew the attention of the centre for timely completion of the Jiribam-Tupul-Imphal railway line. This Railway Line alone would provide the state with a reliable and dependable means of transporting essential commodities like PDS rice, wheat, sugar and POL products including LPG. Once completed, the state expected to be rid of the blackmail, the state suffered frequently from, by way of blockades of National Highways. The state had acquired the land on priority and deployed a large part of State police force for providing dedicated security to the Railway Staff to enable completion of the project by 2016. He urged the centre to list the Railway Project in the 12th Plan as of the highest priority with ensuring full funding.
He further stated that Manipur had to contend with the availability of 115 MW as against the peak demand of 180 MW, resulting in per capita consumption of energy counted for Manipur being 106 Kwh, as against 360 Kwh for all India. In rural areas of Manipur, the situation was much worst. Inadequacy of power was at the root of lack of any worthwhile industry in Manipur. The proposed World Bank funded NE Region Transmission, Sub-Transmission and Distribution Project must be funded and accorded a high priority to enable the state to draw its share of power from the regional grid.
He further stressed the need for giving attention to technical and vocational education. The capacities in the existing Engineering and Medical colleges, Polytechnics, IITs etc needed to be substantially expanded and upgraded to meet the growing and diversified demands.
Ibobi Singh stated that Manipur was a poor state and the population was mostly dependent on agriculture, with hardly any trade or industry. State expenditure had however grown from year to year. Due to Manipur’s narrow resource base, it had become extremely difficult for the state government to meet its normal and developmental requirements. The annual Plan allocations along with non-plan funds were inadequate to meet the state government’s genuine needs. He urged the centre to come forward to supplement the State’s large resource gap.
Manipur Chief Minister proposed to give a quantum jump to investment in the hill areas through the elected Autonomous District Councils during the 12th Plan. He also drew the attention of the centre for effective border management in the international border to prevent from cross-border movement of terrorist groups.
The 56th meeting of the National development Council was attended by Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, Human Resource Development minister Kapil Sibbal, Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, Home minister P. Chidambaram, Railway minister Dinesh Trivedi, deputy chairman Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia and minister of State for Planning Ashwani Kumar, State Chief Ministers, senior central and state officers in the day long meeting.
Manipur chief secretary D. S. Poonia and Finance commissioner Rakesh Ranjan accompanied the state Chief Minister in the meeting.
Referring to the North East, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, in his inaugural address, stated that the Eleventh Plan, for the first time, presented an infrastructure plan for the North East. It had made a good start and this thrust must be continued in the Twelfth Five Year Plan.