The North East India, comprising of eight States, is an area blessed with abundant potential and opportunities. The region is populated by a number of different communities, with diverse cultures, languages and customs. It is also marked by difficult terrain, backward areas, and limited connectivity.
Until recently, this area was known for the active presence of a number of militant groups. However, under the present regime at the Centre, peace has been achieved to a large extent, with notable recent examples being the Nagaland Peace Accord and the Bodo Peace Accord.
The region is connected to mainland India only through a narrow stretch of land (about 22 km wide) in West Bengal called the ‘Siliguri Corridor’, sometimes known as the “Chicken’s Neck”. Except for this narrow Siliguri Corridor, the entire north eastern part of the country is bounded by international borders.
The strategic position of the land entails a number of advantages as well as challenges. It is against this backdrop that governance must be delivered, for the overall development of the region.
The Department of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) was established in the year 2001. It became a full-fledged Ministry of the Government of India in 2004.
The Ministry of DoNER functions as the nodal Department of the Central Government to deal with matters related to the socio-economic development of the eight States of Northeast India.
It handled the Non-Lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR) Scheme, which has been followed by the North East Special Infrastructure Development Scheme (NESIDS).
The North Eastern Council (NEC) is a statutory regional planning body for North East India constituted under the North Eastern Council Act 1971. All the Governors and the Chief Ministers of the eight States in the North East are Members of the NEC. The Union Home Minister is the Chairman, and the DoNER Minister acts as the Vice Chairman.
Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project
The Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project (KMMTTP) is a massive connectivity project being undertaken by the Government of India to connect Haldia in West Bengal to Sittwe Port in Myanmar, which will then enter India through the southern part of Mizoram.
The entire northeast is connected to mainland only through the narrow stretch of land called the Siliguri Corridor. This is an undesirable scenario from all angles, including security, conveyance and transportation.
The KMMTTP is expected to providing a valuable alternate source of connectivity, while considerably reducing the long distance currently travelled via the Siliguri Corridor. While work on the Indian side is almost nearing completion, there are a few stumbling blocks on the Myanmar side, which have not been helped by the current political turmoil prevailing there.
For a long time, the North East was a neglected and forgotten part of the country. However, upon the initiative of the present Hon’ble Prime Minister, Union Ministers have now been frequently visiting the region at regular intervals.
Despite North East India accounting for only 3.76% of the total population of the country (2011 Census), the Union Government assures 10% of its Gross budgetary Support (GBS) to the region. Hon’ble Prime Minister himself has said that the Northeast has the potential to become the growth engine of the country.