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Centre tightens norms for NE projects

NEW DELHI, July 24  - Tightening norms to overcome the deficiencies in new projects, the Centre has asked the North Eastern States to introduce the Global Positioning System (GPS) for proper gap analysis before the prioritisation of projects.

The Centre has also asked the States to make electronic presentations before the Empowered Committee during the clearance of new projects. E-mail and message alerts of releases and utilisation of funds have been introduced, the Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region, Dr Jitendra Singh said in reply to a Rajya Sabha question.

State Governments have also been sensitised to release funds to the implementing agency on time and submit complete and proper information to the Ministry for getting subsequent instalments for ongoing projects. Nodal officers have been designated to inspect and monitor the progress of the projects periodically.

The Ministry has initiated the fresh moves to overcome deficiencies like preparation of priority lists without proper and scientific gap analysis, delay in submission of priority lists, concept papers and detailed project reports, release of funds by State Governments to the executive agency and delay in the finalisation of tenders with regard to new projects. Non-submission of utilisation certificates, quarterly progress reports, inspection reports, etc., and the release of the matching State share on time were found to be the main areas of concern in the case of ongoing projects.

Dr Singh said the review of projects sanctioned under the schemes of the Non-Lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR), Social and Infrastructure Development Fund (SIDF) and the North Eastern Council (NEC) is a continuous process.

Meanwhile, in a separate reply, Dr Singh said so far 63 projects at an approved cost of Rs 741.93 crore have been sanctioned under the Bodoland packages and an amount of Rs 603.88 crore has been released over the years.

The State Government has reported the completion of 43 projects and 20 remaining projects are yet to be completed. No new project has been sanctioned during the last three years. The delay in the completion of the projects is mainly due to non-submission of utilisation certificates in time by the State Governments, problems related to land acquisition and forest clearance, prevailing law and order situation and limited working season due to high rainfall.

The Government of India agreed, under a Memorandum of Settlement executed between the Government of India, Government of Assam and Bodo Liberation Tigers in 2003, to provide financial assistance of Rs 100 crore per annum for five years for projects to develop the socio-economic infrastructure of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) areas over and above the normal plan assistance given to the Assam Government. An additional package of Rs 250 crore was announced by the then Prime Minister during his visit to Assam in August, 2008.