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Meghalaya facing financial crunch
Raju Das
 SHILLONG, Aug 25 – Meghalaya is facing a financial crunch and projects have witnessed roadblocks due to delay in approval of the annual plan by the Centre.

 Currently, the State is receiving Rs 90 crore every month from the tentative plan. “We are facing some issues with projects as there has been some delay in approval of the annual plan of the State,” Additional Chief Secretary BK Dev Varma said.

Not just in Meghalaya, there is some confusion, after the BJP-led NDA Government at the Centre decided to dissolve the “Soviet era” Planning Commission. Instead, a think tank comprising of members drawn from the civil society academicians, financial experts and bureaucrats would take its place.

However, there is no clarity when the new body would take charge and this is proving some constraint, especially in Northeastern States like Meghalaya, which depends on the Centre for its annual plan.

Varma said several projects, concerning most of the departments, have been affected due to the delay in approval of the State plan. He admitted that like other Northeastern States, Meghalaya too was dependent on the Centre to build its fledgeling infrastructure and the State is able to generate only Rs 1000 crore from tax collection and other sources.

Varma said that this collection has also been hit by the National Green Tribunal’s ban on coal mining which was a major source of income for the State Government by way of royalty.

“The annual royalty the State receives from coal is about Rs 400- Rs 500 crore, but this source of income has also been hit after the NGT’s ban on coal mining and transportation of the resource,” the additional CS said.

The only hope for the State is the NGT lifting its ban and allow coal mining, after the State take measures to protect the environment, a pre-requisite for revoking the ban order.

On the other hand, the mining season of coal only starts after the monsoon, so the State has still some time and hope that the transportation ban on coal for the already extracted mineral is lifted by the NGT, Varma said.

Meanwhile, the State is also hoping that work on two of its power projects – Kynshi I and II – gets started by 2015. These two plants are being constructed with an equity share of 26 per cent – 74 per cent between the State Government and the private companies respectively, Varma stated.

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