Union Minister for Development of the North-East C P Thakur has warned the eight states of the region to complete all delayed and pending projects before April 2004 or face stoppage of funds for those projects.
Thakur, who chaired a meeting in Guwahati on Thursday to review the progress of all schemes in the region, said, "Some of these delayed projects have been under implementation for more than 20 years. We cannot go on sinking money into projects that are so much behind the original schedule."
Thakur was accompanied by four ministers of state -- Sanjay Paswan from human resources development, Bijoya Chakravarty from water resources, Sripad Naik from road transport and highways, and Tapan Sikdar from development of the north-eastern region (DONER).
The meeting also reviewed the progress of the 28-point socio-economic package announced by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2001. Under this package, schemes worth Rs 11,957 crore (Rs 119.57 billion) have been sanctioned. "We have reviewed all 28 schemes and found that seven have been already implemented, while 17 are under implementation," Thakur said.
Thakur and DONER secretary Atul Sinha said the central government is concerned over the delay in project-implementation and urged the states to take quick action in this matter.
Both, the minister and the secretary, however, admitted that several constraints hamper project-implementation in the North-East. While late submission of utilization certificates is certainly one of the major issues for not releasing further instalments, they agreed that several natural problems like short working season, landslides and landslips, and a tough terrain are the major constraints faced by these states. "So we do take all this into consideration while reviewing the progress of the schemes," Thakur said.