Respected Prime Minister, Hon’ble Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, Hon’ble Union Ministers, my esteemed colleagues from other sister States.
My printed speech has been circulated and may be treated as read. I would, however, like to highlight a few issues beyond what I have raised in my formal speech.
1. I must, at the outset, congratulate the UPA government led by Dr. Manmohan Singhji, who is largely instrumental in opening up of a new horizon in the country’s economic development, for its bold and sincere initiative to ensure distributive prosperity through equitable and inclusive growth. The Twelfth Five Year Plan, with the core objective of faster, more inclusive and sustainable growth, represents an new step towards that goal. We appreciate and share this basic postulate of the plan. It is possibly for the first time in nearly six decades of democratic planning in the country that such a clear, well-defined and positive policy intervention has been noticed. I would also like to complement the Planning Commission for presenting an exhaustive and analytical document on the 12th Plan that helps better appreciation of what we have achieved and what we propose to achieve.
2. The 12 Plan should provide for an integrated water resource management programme for sustainable development in the North East which has 34% of the country’s total surface water.
3. To encourage private investment in infrastructure sector like communication, power, industry etc. there should be provision for added incentives and the VGF guidelines should be made flexible and liberal so that private investors get attracted to this region and development projects become economically viable. There should be a separate industrial policy for this region that takes care of all essential aspects like institutional finance, power, water and marketing network. A regional Venture Fund for micro-credit has been a pressing need. It would promote self-employment of educated youths.
4. The growing gap between resource availability and rising expenditure in the Non-Plan side has been an acute problem impacting economic development. The normative assessment of Non-Plan fund requirements leaves a big gap between our projected need and Finance Commission’s award. It is just impossible for a poor State to meet this gap. As a result the plans get down-sized and growth process hampered. Unless a solution to this problem is found, inclusive balanced and faster economic growth for us will remain a distant goat.
5. We appreciate the policy for more investment in the Higher Education Sector to be driven by three ‘E’s i.e. expansion, equity and excellence. But the UGC guidelines regarding admissibility of fund for infrastructure development at collegiate level, which is linked to number of students in a college, restricts fund flow under the scheme. As there is shortage of class room facilities in about 75% of the colleges in Mizoram coupled with lack of adequate hostel facilities, enrolment has been grossly limited and therefore, these colleges can not avail UGC fund. The restrictive guideline should be modified suitably. There should be a National Policy for all the backward areas so that the much needed infrastructure Development Fund for college and hostel buildings can be accessed by the poor and backward States.
6. The SSA guidelines accept Primary School level up to Class-V as a national norm. In Mizoram Primary Schools have only up to Class-IV. Proposal for addition of one more class has been repeatedly turned down. Unless this provision in the guidelines is modified, Mizoram will not be able to achieve the National norm.
7. The policy for expansion of Public Health Care System to address the Health needs of the vast majority of the students, including extension of NRHM to cover also the urban areas, is most welcome. We also support expansion of teaching and training programmes for health care professionals. However, the proposal is silent regarding problem of under-privileged States like Mizoram, Arunachal orNagalandStateswhich do not have anyMedicalCollege. Similarly there is need for upgradation and strengthening of all the District Hospitals up to a minimum of 200 bed capacity with essential buildings and diagnostic equipments. Since private investment, even for Public Private Partnership, is not immediately available, government ofIndiashould take appropriate policy initiative backed by Central funding so that all States may have at least oneMedicalCollegeduring the 12 Plan and the District hospitals are provided with proper buildings and diagnostic equipments. Further, for improvement of the health care system in the remote and inaccessible villages there is need for setting up of village clinics with building and two or three staff to ensure health care and to deal with emergency cases locally. This will go a long way to cover the under-covered villages.
8. We are grateful to the Govt, ofIndiafor providing funds from the Ministry of Surface Transport, PMGSY, NLCPR and NEC for connectivity improvement. One of the biggest constraints for development of Mizoram is poor road condition. For raising the level of road availability from the existing 35.27 krns/100 sq km to 50 kms/100 sq km, the estimated fund requirement is Rs.7828 crores during the 12th Plan and without it Mizoram will not be able to reach National road density even after 50 years. It is, therefore, proposed that Govt, of India may consider introduction of special road project for the NE States with a separate funding pattern both for construction of new roads as well as maintenance of old ones.
9. Telecommunication system in my State has been utterly inadequate. Out of 71 mobile towers approved in 10th Plan for Mizoram under USOF, only 19 towers have been constructed till date. Proposal for construction of the remaining 52 mobile towers could not progress due to non-involvement of State Government. Similarly we do not have reliable broadband connectivity as we depend on OFC laid underground lines which are frequently damaged due to road construction, landslide etc. These may be replaced by OPGW through 132 KV towers and the concerned authorities may take necessary action in that behalf.
10. We appreciate the initiative of the Planning Commission to <£- streamline and rationalize the rate for State Matching Share for ^ various Centrally Sponsored Schemes. We also appreciate the policy of consultation through regional level consultation meetings where State Government as well as NGOs are involved.
11. The JN National Solar Mission is an important response to provide lighting and better living condition specially for remote villages. However, I submit that the pattern for funding, specially for the NE States needs modification in the 12th Plan. The funding norms is based on the benchmark cost fixed at the rate of production by the manufacturers without counting transportation, installation and various taxes. Due to this the share of the State even for Solar home lighting system, soiar power plant and various other schemes is higher than 50% in many cases. The method for calculation of benchmark cost may be fixed by including various other compulsory items of expenditure and to provide Central financial assistance at 90% like all other Central Ministries.
I hope all these issues would receive due consideration of the concerned authorities. Thank you, Sir, for allowing me this opportunity to put forth our views.