Narrow urban-rural development gaps: Naidu

SHILLONG, Oct 4: As the country celebrates 75 years of independence and sets goals for the next 25 years, Vice President, M. Venkaiah Naidu stressed on the need to narrow urban-rural development gaps.
Addressing a workshop on “Changing Role of North-Eastern Council in the Development of North Eastern Region” here on Monday, he emphasised the need to eliminate extreme poverty, reduce economic disparities and revamp the education system and public health infrastructure for building a healthy, educated, skilled and inclusive “Atmanirbhar” India.
“Ours is an aspirational India. The vibrant Northeast with a population of around 45 million has its own dreams to be realised,” he said.
Naidu advised the North Eastern Council to propel the region on a resurgent phase of accelerated development by quickly resolving issues impeding its progress. He said India’s progress cannot be complete if there is uneven progress in various regions.
The Vice President asked the states in the region to share the best practices in various fields and derive mutual benefit.
He said the creation of the NEC was a seminal landmark redefining the approach towards the region’s development and listed out some of its achievements, including the construction of more than 11,000 km of roads, 10,340 km of power transmission and distribution lines and setting up of iconic institutions, among others.
Expressing happiness over the perceptible change in the economy of the region, he said the Per Capita Net State Domestic Product of all the states has grown significantly.
Naidu asked the NEC to focus on bridging the gaps in respect of socio-economic development stating the North-Eastern Region Social Development Goals Index, 2021-22, released by the NITI Aayog, provides clear direction in this regard.
He lauded the Council for its achievements but said, “We cannot merely rest on our past laurels”.
Stating that the Centre has embarked on a path of reform in all spheres to improve performance and productivity, he said the ease of doing business and ease of living are key objectives.
He said from conceptualization of a policy or programme to its implementation, clear processes and timelines are drawn for meeting the goals and ensuring delivery of benefits to the targeted.
Citing various initiatives including Swachh Bharat Mission and Housing for All, he expressed confidence the NEC will be guided by the new ethos and policy environment.
The Vice President stressed on accountability and transparency and said schemes like Direct Benefit Transfer would go a long way in ensuring that the benefits reach every beneficiary.
Recalling that the 69th plenary session of the Council had identified two key issues of resolving interstate border disputes and attracting private investments, Naidu said private investment needs to be promoted by encouraging entrepreneurship, venture funds, start-ups and skill development.
NEC crucial to addressing climate issues: Conrad
Highlighting the adverse impact of climate change on the ecologically sensitive Northeastern region, Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma has said that the NEC should come up with a common agenda for the region to mitigate the problems.
“Let the NEC be a platform where all the states of the region can discuss plans on flood management, increase of forest covers and even formulation of an industrial policy for the region,” he said.
Referring to the functioning of the NEC, he said that considering the scope of the Council, it has not been able to achieve its full potential since it has been playing the role of a funding agency.
He pointed out that though the budget of the Council has been increased in the last few years, its role is limited to viability gap funding or funding chosen projects.
“If we look at the role of the NEC, a lot of things are happening but a pattern is missing. I feel there is a need to open up the functioning of the NEC by providing some flexibility,” Sangma said.

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