- Geographical Challenges:
- Very high rainfall, shifting river courses, poor drainage system and narrow valleys are regularly causing severe floods, erosion, landslides and sand deposition in the North East causing loss of huge areas of valuable agricultural land.
- Hilly, inaccessible and undulating terrain has led to underdeveloped transport links.
- Large area of land is under ‘Jhum cultivation’ which leads to large scale deforestation resulting in soil erosion and loss of soil fertility.
- Disaster Proneness of North East:
- High rainfall and large river basins of the Brahmaputra and the Barak along with their narrow valleys regularly cause severe floods, erosion, landslides and sand deposition leading to loss of huge areas of valuable agricultural land and thereby reduction of the average size of land holdings in the region.
- Historical Challenges:
- Despite the above mentioned challenges, the North-eastern region was at par with rest of the country at independence but post-independence events have retarded the development of the region.
- The Bangladesh Liberation was of 1971: When crores of people from Bangladesh entered some states of North East as refugees which changed the demographic situation in some state of North-East bordering Bangladesh.
- Insurgencies: From the end of the seventies of the last century problems of insurgency started in states like Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Manipur, Insurgency affected the present day Nagaland and Mizoram in the fifties and sixties of the last century. Now, of course, due to various actions taken by the Central and State governments, insurgency in this region is no longer a matter of great concern.
- Infrastructural Factors:
- The prominent indicators of shortfalls in infrastructure in this region are: increasingly congested roads, power failures, shortage of drinking water etc.
- Political challenges:
- Chinese Aggression on Arunachal Pradesh (called NEFA at that time) in 1962, apparently refrain large scale investment from private player in North East.
- Large scale Migration from Bangladesh led to various socio-economic- political problem
- The culture of ‘bandhs’ is peculiar problem of NER, widely prevalent in Assam, Manipur and Nagaland.
- Three fourth of NER have no proper land records and Individual ownership of land is not well established
- Social Challenges:
- Remarkable growth of migration from the North East to different parts of the country mostly in search of education and job opportunities gives big blow to the local society.
- Drug abuse is a serious problem among youth of North east with more than 30% of its youth being drug abusers.
- Migration from surrounding areas of NERs (Bangladesh and states of Bihar and Bengal) reduced the average size of land holding to about one hectare.
- Lack of Social Infrastructure:
- Inadequate number of polytechnics and higher institutions for engineering, medical and nursing studies etc.
- Teachers’ Training is poor thereby leading to poor standards of education
Impacts of Infrastructure projects in NE India:
- Strategic Importance: north-eastern states provide an important gateway to both China and the Southeast Asian states, these corridor projects will be crucial for India’s economic and strategic relationship with these countries.
- Boost to India’s Act East Policy: better co-ordination with the south East Asian nations.
- Regional Development: These corridor-based development projects may generate further economic activities and regional development, which in turn will influence economic growth through higher production and consumption
- Increases Connectivity: Not only is the region poorly connected to the rest of India, it is also poorly connected to neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia. However, this could change.
- Boosts Trade: Increased road density, because of these corridors, would lead to both greater freight volumes as well as greater gross domestic product growth in the states.
- Encourages Investment: with better infrastructure, FDI and local investments increase leading to better economic opportunities.
Recent Steps taken for Development
- North East Special Infrastructure Development Scheme(NESIDS)launched by Centre in Dec2017 to fill the gaps in creation of infrastructures in two sectors
- One is physical infrastructure relating to water supply, power, connectivity and especially projects promoting tourism.
- The other is social sector projects of education and health. The remarkable feature of this scheme is that this is a 100 per cent centrally funded scheme as against the NLCPR, where 10 per cent contribution had to come from the State Governments
- Empowering people by maximizing self-governance and participatory development through grass-root planning to promote inclusive development.
- Creation of development opportunities for the rural areas through enhancing productivity in agriculture and allied activities such as animal husbandry, horticulture, floriculture, fisheries and generation of livelihood options through rural non- farm employment.
- Harnessing the resources of the Government and the private sector to realize the objectives of the Vision.
Innovation, Initiatives, Ideas and Implementation–all the four needs to go together. Inclusive growth is possible through improved governance, doing away with the draconian laws and ensuring the local communities are empowered to implement basic services. For this, all the stakeholders need to formulate a comprehensive realistic plan for the overall development of North East.