On February 1, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget 2022 with a special mention of the northeastern region.
Union budget to be beneficial for Northeast:
Sitharaman said the Centre will fund infrastructure improvement projects and several social development projects will be introduced in the northeastern region. This is likely to create more job opportunities and help improve the employment sector in the eight northeastern states – Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.
Further, the Minister announced Rs 1,500 crore for development initiatives in the entire northeast region.
According to Sitharaman the new reforms “will enable livelihood activities for youth and women” in the Northeast. While presenting the Budget, Nirmala Sitharaman said, “PM development initiatives for the North East will be implemented for the North Eastern Council… This will enable livelihood activities for youth and women… This scheme is not a substitute for the existing Centre or State schemes.”
Some other initiatives to be taken are:
Dedicated Services for the Management of Paediatric and Adult Hematolymphoid Cancers in North East India, Guwahati, construction of Aizawl bypass on western side, gap funding for passenger ropeway system for Pelling to Sanga-Choeling in West Sikkim, gap funding for eco-friendly Ropeway (Cable Car) from Dhapper to Bhaleydhunga in South Sikkim and pilot project for construction of Bamboo Link Road at different locations in various districts in Mizoram.
The government has identified eight projects at a budget of Rs. 963 crore and the remaining will be identified soon. Border villages with sparse population and connectivity on northern borders will be covered under Vibrant Village Programme.
Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura are slated to be benefited.
Tripura CM Biplab Deb tweeted: “Gratitude to Hon PM Shri @narendramodi Ji & Hon FM @nsitharaman Ji for the Development Initiative for the NE, a scheme in the spirit of PM Gati Shakti to fund social development projects in NE. It will further develop the region & make it the Ashtalakshmi of the country’s economy.”
President Ram Nath Kovind, in the pre-budget parliament session, said that the government is committed to provide better infrastructure and connectivity in the North-eastern states.
Earlier, on January 31, in the Parliament the President said, “Rail and air connectivity are no longer a dream for the people of the Northeast, they are now able to experience them in reality. It is a matter of pride for the country that all the capitals of the Northeastern states are now being brought on the railway map with the efforts of my government.”
The Union Budget has again excluded the two northeastern states of Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim bordering China from the World Bank-funded project for power system improvement in the northeast.
Arunachal, Sikkim excluded from WB Project:
However, after getting other benefits the two states of Northeast, Arunachal and Sikkim have been excluded from the WB project. According to the Budget document’s explanatory note, “the project is for power system improvement in six NER states viz. Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura and Nagaland. It is funded by the World Bank. Intra-State Transmission & Distribution projects for Sikkim & Arunachal Pradesh has been segregated for implementation through budgetary support from Government of India in view of these states having sensitive borders.”
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in her Budget for 2022-23, has proposed allocation of Rs. 371 crore as programme component, Rs 273 crore as EAP component in rest of the northeast and Rs 1,700 crore as budgetary support for strengthening of transmission system in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.
Segregation of externally aided projects in these two frontier states has its roots since 2009 when China objected to an irrigation project in Arunachal that was planned by Asian Development Bank for $60-million. The project was subsequently scrapped.