The Northeast comprising seven sister states is no more a neglected part of India. The visible change and development in the Northeast are undeniable evidence of its resurgence.
The Modi Government has initiated policies and programmes for the active development and sustenance of the culture, infrastructure, health, education, and representation of the Northeast. They also paved the way for the highest representation of the Northeast in the Cabinet and ensured that the centre actively addressed issues with which the Northeast was grappling.
The Northeast has experienced unparalleled growth over the eight years of the Modi administration. With a new sense of direction and a focused acceleration, an era of resurgence in the northeastern region has begun.
Former Vice President of India, M Venkaiah Naidu once stated, “A report of the Indian Chamber of Commerce published in 2013 had stated that the northeastern region, which is heavily dependent on agriculture and services sectors, stands way below in comparison to the rest of India in socio-economic indicators. But there seems to be a major difference now as the Center has launched many initiatives and interventions to fulfil its commitment to change the region’s socio-economic growth”.
Prime Minister’s Development Initiative for Northeast (PM-DevINE) is one such project that was presented in the Union budget 2022-23. An initial allocation of 1500 crore was planned and the objectives were empowerment and creating livelihood opportunities for women and the youth. It was also focused on filling the gaps in each sector operating for the northeast. It sought to provide funding for infrastructure projects and social development initiatives in the spirit of PM GatiShakti.
However, on 12th October 2022, the Union Cabinet headed by Modi approved the (PM-DevINE) programme for the final four years of the 15th Finance Commission, from 2022–2023 to 2025–2026. The Ministry of Development of the North Eastern Region (DoNER) will implement this new Central Sector Scheme with 100% Central funding. It will have an outlay of Rs.6,600 crore for the four-year period. Although expenses would still be incurred in 2024–2025 and 2025–2026, a priority will be placed on finishing the sanctioned PM–DevINE projects so that there are no contracted liabilities beyond the period. Additionally, steps would be taken to guarantee that the projects approved under PM-DevINE are adequately operated and maintained so that they stand sustainable. Government projects will, to the greatest extent possible, be completed on an engineering-procurement-construction (EPC) basis in order to reduce construction risks of time and cost overrun.
One of the significant projects that kick starts the scheme is the establishment of Dedicated Services for the Management of Paediatric and Adult Haematolymphoid Cancers in North-East India, to be based at Dr B. Borooah Cancer Institute (BBCI), Guwahati. It is anticipated to cost Rs 129 crore. Given that 3,855 individuals with childhood and adult haemolymphoid cancer sought treatment at BBCI over the past 11 years, this project has the potential to substantially improve cancer care in the Region. Furthermore, there may be a large number of patients who require this specialized treatment but cannot access it locally and must go to other centres across the nation due to the lack of suitable facilities outside of the BBCI in the Northeast. If a dedicated paediatric oncology block is constructed, about 1,000 youngsters per year can receive treatment for this group of illnesses which will greatly lower patient expenses and benefit the inhabitants of the North-Eastern Region.
The parameters of Northeast States in terms of Basic Minimum Services (BMS) are significantly below the national average, as there are significant development gaps according to the NER District Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Index 2021–2022, which was created by NITI Aayog, UNDP, and MDoNER. This stands as a valid justification for the introduction of PM-DevINE to solve these BMS deficiencies and development gaps. The objectives of PM-DevINE include enabling livelihood activities for youth and women, funding infrastructure convergent in the spirit of PM Gati Shakti and supporting social development projects based on the felt needs of the NER. It will facilitate potentially larger infrastructural and social development initiatives and offer an end-to-end development solution rather than a collection of standalone projects. Therefore, it will be assured that there is no crossover between project support provided under PM-DevINE with any other schemes of MDoNER or other ministries/departments. The average size of projects under other MDoNER Schemes is about Rs.12 crore only.
Even though some of the projects to be approved for 2022–2023 under PM–DevINE is included in the Budget announcement, projects with substantial economic impact or sustainable livelihood opportunities for the general public (such as basic infrastructure in all primary medical centres, complete and accurate amenities in primary and secondary government schools, etc.) may be taken into consideration in the future.
The PM-DevINE programme is an augmentation of the resources already available for NER development and won’t serve as a stand-in for current Central and State Schemes. The government continues to give high priority to the development of the NE area, as evidenced by the unveiling of PM-DevINE.
The Central government has shown unrelenting dedication to the development of the Northeast which became the reason for the region’s long-lasting peace and economic revival. Shri Narendra Modi’s mantra, “Sabka Vikas, Sabka Prayash” is the motto that guides the government’s ongoing efforts to advance every citizen’s quality of life and ignite the holistic growth of India.