The 59th meeting of the North Eastern Council (NEC) was held successfully in New Delhi on September 28, 2010. Conducted every year, the NEC meets to discuss issues pertaining to the development of each states of the region and chalk out plans with budget for the next coming year. The North Eastern Council is the nodal agency for the economic and social development of the North Eastern Region which consists of the eight States of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura.

Attended by state representatives which include the Chief Ministers and other top brass, the meeting was chaired by the Hon’ble Union Minister of Mines & Development of North East Region (DONER) and Chairman of North East Council, Mr. B. K Handique. He facilitated the discussion between the different state representatives and members from the Central ministries viz Telecommunications, Shipping and Railways.

The North Eastern Council was constituted in 1971 by an Act of Parliament. The constitution of the Council  has marked the beginning of a new chapter of concerted and planned actions for the rapid development of the region. Over the last thirty five years, NEC has been instrumental in setting in motion a new economic endeavour aimed at removing the basic handicaps that stand in the way of normal development of the region and has ushered in an era of new hope  in the challenging Northeast region, otherwise full of great potentialities.

At the Council meeting, each Central ministry’s representative was given time to present the development progress and plans for the region. The state representatives raised their concerns, requests and doubts on this. His Excellency the Governor of Meghalaya Mr. Ranjit Shekhar Mooshahary raised a very interesting issue on Inland Waterways. He suggested to the ministries to not only focus on opening waterways for trade but to initiate passenger carrier services so as to enhance ecotourism in the Northeast region. Considering the potential of the region in tourism and its rich biodiversity, the introduction of passenger carrier calls for urgent action and consideration from Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI).

Other issues concerning telecommunication and importance of railways were also discussed. The region as a whole faced tremendous challenge of constructing proper roads and other means of transport for the development of the region and enhance trade and commerce with other parts of the country as well as with the neighbouring countries.

P.P. Shrivavtav, Hon’ble member of NEC shared how the region is prone to natural disasters like flood, landslide, earthquake, etc. making it the sixth most vulnerable region in the world.  He emphasized the need to act and take considerable steps to prevent such natural disasters that not only affect human population but also cause much harm to the terrain and the biodiversity. He further brought to everyone’s attention the need to sensitize people, especially the youth of the region about environmental issues and encourage research based survey of the region for better understanding of the issues.

Last but not the least, the Minister of DONER announced and welcomed a joint venture with Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs to host “Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2011”. The 2011 Pravasi Bharatiya Divas will be dedicated to the Northeast region of India and it will showcase the region on the themes of tourism, health and education sectors. It is but an important step towards the upliftment of the region and all participating states should take it as a challenge, and a step further towards an overall development.

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