Union Minister of Development of North East Region (DoNER), Kishan Reddy who was in Guwahati on Monday asked the state governments of all the eight states in the region to fully utilise the Rs 68,200 crore allocated to the department by the centre in 2021-22 budget.
“The budget allocation to North eastern states is Rs 68,020 crore. I urge all the state governments in the region to submit viable proposals so that the full amount allocated across various ministries can be successfully utilised,” Reddy who also holds the Tourism and Culture portfolio said at Guwahati on Monday afternoon.
Northeast region has a bad legacy of underutilising DoNER funds mostly due to late submission of project reports, faulty DPR, and other bureaucratic red-tapisms.
Even after the last budget 2020-2021 was reduced to Rs 51,270 crore from earmarked Rs 60,112 crore due to the COVID-19 pandemic, northeast region till December 31, 2020, had only utilised Rs 32,719 crore, comes to 63.8 %.
Reddy was in Guwahati on a two-day conference of Tourism and Culture Ministers of North Eastern States during which, he had highlighted the various central schemes related to developing tourism that he considers a “game-changer” in developing the region’s “socio-economic” condition.
He said under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme, which focuses on the integrated development of theme-based tourist circuits, the Ministry has sanctioned 16 projects in the North-Eastern region.
“Tourism Ministry is giving special emphasis on developing on-ground capacity and skills in Northeast region. We are also providing branding and marketing assistance to the northeast region through its various schemes and flagship initiatives.”
Reddy informed that under the Ministry of Tourism’s PRASHAD scheme in which, Centre helps develop pilgrimage sites, approximately Rs 200 crore has been sanctioned for various projects.
Union Minister of State for Culture and Parliamentary Affairs, Arjun Ram Meghwal, who was also present in the program, in his address said that North East has immense potential for tourism development.
Union Minister of State for Tourism and Defence, Ajay Bhatt said that under Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s leadership the country is seeing development in every sector.
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma asserted that a holistic approach is required for the development of the tourism sector in the NE zone. In a wider spectrum, North East as a brand has to be promoted, and connectivity and infrastructure facilities need to be developed, he added.
An MoU between the Ministry of Tourism and IRCTC was signed for cooperation in promoting domestic tourism and the development of new tourism products.