Pralhad Joshi termed the Northeast region as a “hotspot” of natural resources including coal. He also asked stakeholders to take the local residents as confidante in order “to procure land for mining explorations in the region though some are protected by Article 371 (A)”.
By Imna Longchar, TFM Nagaland Correspondent
Union minister, mines, coal, and parliamentary affairs, Pralhad Joshi, on Monday said that the budget allocations for development of the eight northeast regions (NERs) have been “revered” in the last seven years with the allocation of Rs 76040 crores where the “previous regime” stood at Rs.36108 crores.
It was in the year 2014, only six airports were functional in the northeast but now the region has now 15 airports which are functional, a total of 4600 kms fastest Jan Shadabti connecting Manipur to Tripura via Assam which was introduced this year while new 14 railway projects are completed with a whopping Rs 57000 crores under the pilgrimage….Under this he said, Nagaland was allotted Rs 25 crores, and Meghalaya (Rs 29 crores) already being sanctioned.
Addressing the first ever Northeast Geology and Mining Minister’s Conclave attended by dignitaries including chief ministers, ministers, bureaucrats, and HoDs and others from all the eight northeastern states including Sikkim, at Niathu Resort, 7th Mile, Chumoukedima, Nagaland, Pralhad Joshi, said that the proposed PM’s development initiative for 10 years (2014-2022) of the NER PM-I scheme announced
would find an “infrastructural” development in the northeast.
While encouraging the people the northeast, which he termed the region as a “hotspot” of natural resources including coalmine, Pralhad also asked stakeholders to take the local residents as confidante in order to procure land for mining explorations in the region though some are protected by Article 371 (A).
“Northeast region has more problems while other states too have problems but they are carrying out mining activities,” he said while calling upon all for resolving the issues relating to auctioning of mining blocks at the “political and bureaucratic level” and also adding reminding that the mineral-rich northeast region has great potential in the mining sector.
Later, Pralhad insisted on from the eight northeastern states to submit proposals which he assured that once it is received, the ministry would sanction Rs 5 crore immediately against each project to every states of the region with an additional assurance that his ministry is ready to sanction additional funds provided they work hard with a positive “results”.
Later, in the evening, the Union minister, mines, coal, and parliamentary affairs, while interacting with media persons at the conference room of Niathu Resort, shared that the north east mines and coal ministers’ committee has put forward their concerns and demands before the Union minister.
He also disclosed that a joint working group has been constituted by the ministry of mines for different states to resolve several issues related to the process of auctioning.
‘Quickly resolve the issue to come out of the cycle of underdevelopment’ says Assam CM
Assam chief minister, and NEDA chief, Himanta Biswa Sarma, who spoke in the afternoon session of 1st Northeast Geology and Mining Minister’s Conclave said that the protracted political issue has to be “quickly resolved” as according to him once it is “resolved”, the “destiny” would be with the northeast region coming out from the “cycle of under development”.
Stating that sometimes the government of India (GoI) has “distanced itself” giving less interest for the region due to not being able to exploit the mineral wealth to the fullest, not having the requisite technologies, its remoteness and experiencing its own “in-house reasons”, Sarma, maintained that because of the same reason, the people of the region were not able to explore its plentiful resources for the benefit of all the “poor and downtrodden” in the entire northeastern region.
He said the first conclave was organized to place the region’s demand on mineral exploration before the union minister and added that while endorsing the northeast mines and coal ministers’ committee’s resolutions adopted during the morning session, Sarma stressed on to quickly resolve pertaining issues Sarma hoped the region would move forward further in the development sector once the political issues are resolved.
On the Assam-Nagaland border issue, the Assam chief minister said that his state has already given gave its response in a “positive way”.
On Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio’s call to share royalty on mineral wealth in the disputed area belts (DAB) between the two states, Sarma said Assam is ready to share it but the Centre has to take a call on it as Assam has always been ready to serve the entire northeastern region.
NE states yet to make a mark in mineral block auction regime in the country: Neiphiu Rio
Nagaland chief minister, Neiphiu Rio, speaking as one of the guests of honour in the conclave said that though it was heartening to learn that Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, and the leadership of the union minister, Mines and Coal, has brought about major reforms in the mining sector of the country, these reforms were positively impacting the rest of the states in the country both in mineral
exploration and production.
However, Rio said it was a matter of concern that the northeastern states are yet to make a mark in the mineral block auction regime of the country and solicited the need to address the issues because of which the people are unable to sustainably exploit their mineral resources at “war footing”.
While requesting the union ministry, to consider increased in funding for exploration of mineral wealth, including the untapped minor minerals in the state, the Nagaland chief minister also stated that though Nagaland, besides oil and natural gas, has other economically viable mineral resources including coal, limestone (cement and chemical grade), multi-metal magnetite and minor mineral
resources especially sandstone distributed in all the districts, there are many reasons the state has not been able to exploit them.
In the oil exploration and extraction sector, Rio supplemented that Nagaland government has started discussions with the Centre and Assam government for finalizing the tripartite MoU for the sectors A, B, C, D, E and F of the disputed area belt (DAB) along Nagaland-Assam border.
Hoping that his Assam counterpart would favorably respond to his request for including all the sectors in the MoU, Rio exuded confidence that the Union mines and coal ministry would consider the feedback from the first ever Northeast Geology and Mining Minister’s Conclave held on Monday and factor in the issues raised for changing the central government policies and programmes, wherever required to address
“Once confidence in DAB is rebuilt, we should be able to take up exploration and extraction in remaining part of the state for which a bipartite MoU is being discussed with the government of India,” Neiphiu Rio further added.
Mizoram geology and mining minister R Lalthanglianam who chaired the programme, was the convener of the conclave while Nagaland geology and mining minister V Kashiho Sangtam was the co-convener.
Assam power cooperation, mines and minerals, minister, Nandita Gorlosa, senior central government and state government officials from the northeast region attended the daylong conclave.
Meanwhile, Meghalaya chief minister, Conrad K Sangma, was also supposed to grace the conclave as one of the guests of honour but could not attend due to some commitments. The 2nd conclave will be hosted by Assam.