Centre sanctions over Rs 250 Cr to NE states to deal with COVID-19

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New Delhi, Apr 8 (PTI) The Centre has sanctioned over Rs 250 crore to the northeastern states for an effective management of the COVID-19 pandemic, Union minister Jitendra Singh said on Thursday.

Chairing a meeting of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee for the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) here, Singh said the fund has greatly helped in developing infrastructure for the management of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.

A total amount of over Rs 250 crore was sanctioned by the Ministry of DoNER for augmenting healthcare facilities in the eight northeastern states for an effective management of COVID-19, an official statement quoted the minister as saying.

Singh recalled that long before the nationwide lockdown, in the very early stages of the pandemic, the Ministry of DoNER had promptly released Rs 25 crore to the northeastern states for gap funding to fight the COVID-19 outbreak effectively.

This amount was in the nature of untied funds, which were to be utilised on any activity relating to the pandemic and not covered under the existing central packages, the statement said.

The minister assured the members of Parliament that issues such as connectivity, flood control, rain-harvesting system, tourism, infrastructure development, telecommunications, residential schools and other related demands would be taken up on a priority basis in the coming days.

He said the Ministry of DoNER will play the role of a facilitator and guide for other ministries and they can approach him in a free and frank manner for identifying such projects.

The meeting reviewed issues related to the North East Special Infrastructure Development Scheme (NESIDS) and Special Packages in the NER.

Singh apprised the MPs of certain important initiatives such as a separate budget for the North Eastern Council (NEC) for deprived sections and neglected areas, which was a long-pending demand from the region.

He also informed them about the holistic development of the bamboo sector and said three bamboo clusters have been approved in the Jammu, Katra and Samba areas of Jammu and Kashmir for the making of bamboo basketry, incense sticks and bamboo charcoal.

The meeting was attended by Lok Sabha MPs Rebati Tripura, Rajkumar Ranjan Singh, Tapir Gao, Abdul Khaleque, Ramprit Mandal and Lal Rosanga, besides officials from the ministries of DoNER, tourism, railways, civil aviation, telecommunications, road transport and highways, power, ports, shipping and waterways, health and school education. PTI ACB RC