Chairing the North Eastern Council, the regional planning body of the northeastern states, meeting here in Meghalaya, Singh stressed on the importance of civil society participation and people at large in the developmental process besides advocating social audit of the projects and use of modern technology to effectively monitor project implementation.
The meeting was attended by Governors and Chief Ministers of the north-eastern states, Union Development of North Eastern Region, Jitendra Singh, who is the vice-chairman of the NEC, also attended the meeting.
Urging the NEC and the eight North-Eastern States would have to ensure that all the ongoing projects were completed in a time-bound manner, Singh said the states for effective implementation of the recently approved financial package of Rs 4,500 crore by the Centre and directed them to focus on specific areas and better convergence of the government-sponsored schemes.
Underlining the importance of civil society participation in the developmental process, the Home Minister advocated social audit of the projects and use of modern technology to effectively monitor project implementation.
"In the North Eastern Region, civil society is very powerful medium to be engaged in all our development efforts.
The participation of the civil society is crucial.
They should be the partners in socio-economic change.
One such partnership can be through social audit", said Singh, in his first address to NEC after the Union Cabinet's recent approval of a proposal making the Union Home Minister the Chairman of NEC.
"Social audit not only provides information on how funds are spent but most crucially it enables people's participation in the planning of developmental activities and also enables mid-course correction as projects and schemes roll on," he added.
He also expressed happiness that through the use of remote sensing and satellite imagery, NEC had partnered with the North Eastern Space Application Centre (NESAC) and developed a 'Projects Monitoring' portal and a mobile application where stakeholders can monitor progress of capital works funded by the NEC.
On the security scenario in the North Eastern states, the Home Minister said the Government was giving special attention to improving the internal security.
''Private investment and the economic activity would not flourish in the absence of peace and normalcy.
During four years of NDA government, the security situation has drastically improved.
When compared to the 90s, the insurgency-related incidents have declined 85 per cent.
There is 96 per cent reduction in civilian and security forces casualties," he said.
"Today, Tripura and Mizoram are completely free from insurgency and there is a tremendous improvement in the other North Eastern States as well.
Due to this marked improvement in security situation the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) has been completely lifted from Meghalaya and its coverage area has been reduced in Arunachal Pradesh," he said.
Singh said there have been a number of reports and vision documents on how to develop North-Eastern Region.
He emphasized on the need of taking stock of progress made in implementing recommendations contained in them and taking expeditious steps further.
The Union Home Minister said the Government had set up the NITI Forum for the North East in order to provide a platform to identify various constraints on the way of accelerated, inclusive and sustainable economic growth in the region.
The first round of the discussion of the Forum was held on the 10th April.
The suggestions of this Forum have been made available to all the departments concerned for examination and consideration.
He has given October 31, 2018 as a timeline for a decision on suggestions made by the Forum.
Singh also urged the NER State governments to create conducive environment for investment so that entrepreneurs take this opportunity to set up industrial units and generate the much-needed employment in the region.
Stating that the Ministry of DONER had recently launched the North East Venture Capital Fund through the North Eastern Development Finance Corporation Limited (NEDFi) with a corpus of Rs.
100 Cr, he exhorted the entrepreneurs of the region to access funds to take up economic activities in the field of tourism, waste management, medical healthcare, handloom and handicrafts and agro products etc.
"The Union Cabinet, in March 2018, approved the North East Industrial Development Scheme (NEIDS), 2017 with an outlay of Rs.3,000 crore up to March 2020.
The government will provide necessary allocations for the scheme after assessment before March 2020," he said.
He also expressed hope that the scheme would promote industrialization in the North Eastern region o boost employment and income generation.
"After creation of North Eastern Council under NEC Act, 1971, the States of NER were deleted from the purview of Eastern Zonal Council.
I suggest that NEC may be used as a forum to discuss and resolve Inter-State and Centre-State issues effectively as the other Zonal Councils are doing," said Shri Singh.
In view of the peculiar geographical terrain of the NER and fragmented farmland holdings, the Union Home Minister called for "high-value low-volume" produce for export and "out-of-the-box" solutions to doubling farmers' income by 2022.
He also said that the NEC could become a springboard for regional integration and prosperity with South East Asia towards realizing the objectives of the Government's Act East Policy.
Union Minister for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), Dr Jitendra Singh, who is also the Vice-Chairman of the NEC, in his speech gave details of NEC history and changes from time to time.
He said that the Ministry has brought DoNER at the doorsteps of the North East Region. Jitendra said that out of 116 aspirational districts of the country, 14 districts are in the North Eastern Region.
These districts are assessed on the basis of 48 indicators of the growth. On the infrastructural growth in the region, Jitendra said that the government is addressing the concern of 'Orphan roads', common to two bordering states but not being attended by either state in the Region.