Hon’ble Prime Minister, Hon’ble Minister of Agriculture, esteemed colleagues from the sister States and distinguished participants.
I must thank the Central leadership for having given the States this opportunity to participate in the deliberations on a subject of extreme urgency and importance.
Inflation hurts the poor and food inflation hits them the hardest. Therefore, the issue of prices of Essential Commodities is of great concern. This is more so in respect of the north eastern region in general and the backward hill areas in particular. Mizoram, for example, depends
almost entirely on supplies of these commodities from the mainland production and supply bases. Due to very long haul and difficult communication system, the landed cost of these commodities, even at the State Capital, is 8 to 10% higher than that in the developed plains. By the time they reach the interior villages the cost goes up further. The price rise of these commodities makes the task of ensuring food security much more difficult. Besides, whatever additional purchasing power the rural poor got under the various national rural development programmes will be neutralized by rising prices.
While we entirely agree that efforts to enhance production of essential commodities are required to be intensified, there are limitations in my State in regard to raising both production and productivity levels. Available
cultivable area is limited by topography. Secondly, the primitive pattern of jhum cultivation has been a big hurdle in the matter of increasing production. The new government has taken up a comprehensive and integrated programme called ‘the New Land Use Programme’ aimed at (a) diversification of agriculture, (b) reducing incidence of jhuming and finally replacing it with modern system, (c) extensive horticulture and development and (d) economic empowerment of the rural poor. The programme is under consideration of govt. of India and I would like to request the Hon’ble Prime Minister kindly to approve it and provide the required financial support. In the meantime, the State Govt. has been implementing five major Centrally Sponsored Schemes to improve agriculture production. The allotment of Rs.32.72 crores under these
schemes will be fully utilized.
As I mentioned earlier, my State is almost entirely dependent for rice on FCI supplies. The allocation of PDS rice for APL families should be raised. As against the present allocation of 3905 MT made on the basis of 2001 census figures it may be raised to 8302 MT per month on the basis of the latest population figure. We would also approach Govt. of India for allocation of additional rice quota for festivals during the month of December and January and I hope it would be agree too. We have been facing two other problems and both are financial. We have been buying rice at ‘economic cost’ and making it available to the rural people through PDS at subsidized rates. This has put an unbearable financial burden which a poor State like ours can hardly bear. The State Govt. has to take recourse to
this system to meet food crises created by Mautam (gregarious bamboo flowering) which started in 2007-08 and whose impact is still felt. From 2007-08 till end of December m 2009 the State Govt. has spent Rs.155.53 crores which is unrecoverable. We would like to request the Centre to consider given us relief to that extent as a special case. Along with it, we would also request for raising the month PDS quota for the State.
In regard to availability of Dal, the position is indeed bad. In most of our villages this commodity is already out of the poor man’s diet. Even at the State Capital the selling of dal (red) is nearly Rs.80-/ per kg. We have not been able to avail the scheme of distribution of imported pulses primarily due to paucity of fund. We do not have NAFFED or NCCF retail outlets. These organisations may consider
opening such outlets in remote hill areas. As regards sugar, the current allocation of 666 MT per month of levy sugar may be raised to 800 MT per month on the basis of our minimum requirement. The people today have to buy sugar in the open market at about Rs.45/- per kg.
Storage facilities constitute an important element in the system of procurement and distribution of essential commodities. Unless we build up improved and standard storage facilities, loss percentage will be high. Mizoram Govt. has built 1.20 MT storage capacities. However, all the Godowns are Katcha buildings. These are urgently required to be improved. But the State Govt. does not have the means to do so. We again request assistance from the Centre.
The provisions of the Essential Commodities Act are effectively enforced in the State. I may, however add that there is not big whole-sale private traders. Hoarding has not been reported. We have already intimated that it is not necessary in our State to impose stock holding and turnover limits.
Thank you again.
Hon’ble Union Minster of Road Transport and Highways, Shri Kamal Nath Ji; Union Minister of State, Road Transport and Highways; Hon’ble Minister i/c PWD from various States; Secretary, MORT&H other Senior Officers of MORT&H and of various States.
At the outset I would like to thank Shri Kamal Nath Ji for arranging this opportunity for all the States to share the policy and Programme of the Central Ministry and also for us to voice our various problems and wishes for the development of roads in our respective States. The SARDP-NE is the obvious manifestation of the genuine concern the
Central Government have for the NE States.
The importance of Road Transport for all round development of the country and economic upliftment of the people need not be emphasised. Road Transport is all the more important in my State where, owing to the hilly and rough terrain, there is no other means of Transport like Railways, Riverways or domestic Air transport. The road density of Mizoram is only 27 Km/100 Sq km which is very low as compared to the national average of about 76km/100 Sq km.
To save time I would directly come to my points:
1. Construction of 4-lane roads to connect Aizawl, the State Capital:
The East-West corridor in the East terminates
at Silchar and to further connect the State Capital Aizawl by 4-lane road from Silchar (180 Km) DPR has been prepared by NHAI about 2 years back under NHDP-III. However, nothing seems to progress further, possibly due to the fact that BOT is not viable in a corner State like Mizoram where traffic density is low. 4-lane road having a uni-directional traffic flow is required to reduce travel time even though the traffic density is low. Following the general policy of the central government to connect all the State Capitals by 4-lane roads, I would request the ministry of Transport and Highways to expedite this project for early implementation. If required, suitable funding pattern may be evolved.
It is understood that the NHAI, while preparing DPR for the 4-lane road, generally follows the exiting NH-54 alignment. I would
like to suggest that there may be a better and more viable alignment along Vairengte – Phaisen – Buhchangphai – Hortoki (partly following NH- 154) – Sairang – Aizawl. Viability of this alignment may also be explored.
2. Two-lanning of Aizawl – Lawngtlai Road by advancing it to SARDP Phase ‘A’:
While I would like to thank the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways for expeditiously tendering Lawngtlai – Myanmar Border 2-lane road which is part of the proposed Kolodyne Multi Modal Project, it is pertinent to mention that if the road from Aizawl – Lawngtlai (290 km) is also not made to two-lane simultaneously the utility of the 2-lane road from Lawngtlai – Myanmar Border, which is at a further stretch, would be delayed. I would request the Ministry of Road Transport to immediately take up 2-lanning of NH-54 from
Aizawl – Lawngtlai by advancing it to Phase ‘A’ from Phase ‘B’ of SARDP so that the whole stretch of the road Aizawl – Myanmar Border can be completed at the same time.
3. Declaration of additional National Highways in Mizoram:
A proposal has been submitted to the Ministry of Roads and Highways requesting for declaration of Keitum – E.Lungdar – Zokhawthar road as new national Highway. The Eastern part of the State is not yet linked by National Highways. This road will also link the Border Trade Centre, Zokhawthar, at Myanmar Border with the Southern parts of the State and also Kolodyne Multi Modal Project. It will also serve as a link to the neighbouring States like Manipur and Nagaland from the Kolodyne Multi Modal Project. I would request the Ministry of Road
Transport and Highways to kindly declare this road as National Highway.
4. Maintenance of NH-44 ‘A’:
NH-44A is an important lifeline for the States of Mizoram, Tripura and Southern parts of Assam. The poor maintenance of this road, particularly between Silchar and Meghalaya, is adversely affecting the three States. The Ministry or Road Transport and Highways is requested to ensure that this road is properly maintained.
I am sure this meeting will go a long way for faster development of good and reliable roads in the whole country and I wish this meeting a success. I would once again thank the Hon’ble Union Minister, Shri Kamal Nath Ji.
Respected Prime Minister, Hon’ble Home Minister and friends.
I take this opportunity to thank the Government of India for convening this conference on Internal Security which is a serious concern to all of us in recent times.
Before going into specific items I would like to speak a few words about the security situation in North East which has been referred to in the agenda note. The North Eastern States are so placed that violence or lack of security in one State affects the others directly. Therefore, security is of great concern
for all the States of the region. A combination of factors like geographical isolation, perceived sense of neglect, economic backwardness and fear of identity loss fuelled by abnormal demographic changes over the last decades, has led to the current situation. Lack of direct and open communication between the mainstream system and the local communities also creates misconception and mis-giving. I think personally that the remedy lies not in treating the situation as a purely law and order problem but in adopting a well-thought-out approach with a mix of dialogue, development and deterrence.
I am happy to see the agenda notes making a reference to the peaceful situation in Mizoram. I may assure you that we would continue to make sustained efforts to keep the State as an island of peace.
Although peaceful, Mizoram’s cause of some worry has been the porous borders – 318 km along Bangladesh, 404 km along Myanmar are a cause for worry. Poor border management has led to the State being used as a passage-way for arms and ammunitions from Myanmar to militants active in North East India. There have been several cases of gun-running in the past along with seizure of counterfeit currency notes from the borders.
I must say that, more often than not, peace is taken advantage of by insurgents from neighbouring States as well as by rebel groups and other non-state actors from across the borders. Towards this, the hard work of our State Police Force and the para-military forces has been noteworthy.
Some of the issues that I would like to flag are:-
BORDER AREA DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME (BADP) has to be accelerated and stepped up. Infrastructure – road connectivity should be accorded priority.
Police Reforms are much needed. All security forces should have closer networking system among themselves, providing necessary logistics for holistic approach.
We appreciate the Government of India’s benevolence. The Central Non-Plan Scheme of ‘Modernisation of Police Forces’ is extremely beneficial and timely. It has special relevance for Special Category States’ such as Mizoram which continue to reel under a severe funds crunch.
We are taking necessary steps to ensure that funds are utilized on time in future. Further, we
have also taken note of the need for adopting a Transparent Recruitment Process as recommended by the National Police Mission.
I urge the Ministry of Home Affairs to expand the scope of the scheme for strengthening the Anti-Corruption Bureau which has recently been revamped pursuant to the recommendation made in the last Conference of State Vigilance Bureau convened by CBI.
This would go a long way in our resolve to root out corruption in the State.
Even despite the austerity measures, we have not been able to ‘mobilise enough resources’. Lack of infrastructure in roads and communication, power, manufacturing
industries – they all hamper the economic development of the State.
With the blessings of Government of India, we are slowly but surely making progress in infrastructure development. The multi-modal transport for NE States with Sittwe Port in Myanmar is going to run right through the State of Mizoram. Further, with our relations improving with Bangladesh, efficient management of the border areas is going to be crucial.
So far, we have raised five (5) battalions of the India Reserve Police for which Government of India is yet to release some remaining installments of funds. These are crucial for housing and accommodation, transport, arms and ammunition. It is requested to release the funds liberally and early, to boost the morale.
True to the call of duty we have dispatched the full 3rd IR Battalion to Assam on 27th January, 2010. Mizoram is committed to contribute its bit for the security of India!
Incidentally, we are also required to raise two (2) companies of Police Commandos at a cost of Rs.3 crores each to be reimbursed by Government of India. Rather than reimbursing us, I urge the MHA to release this amount so that we can proceed faster, owing to the State’s precarious financial position.
To conclude, I once again thank our Hon’ble Prime Minister for his far sighted vision and able leadership, and the hard work of his cabinet colleagues, such as our efficient Hon’ble Home Minister, Shri P Chidambaram