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Friday, 21 January, 2000, 18:26 GMT
Funds for India's north-east

Poor infrastructure in India's north-east

By Subir Bhaumik in Calcutta

The Indian Government says it will improve the economy in the country's troubled north-east region but has warned regional governments to reduce their dependence on financial aid from Delhi.

Five cabinet ministers led by the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, are in Shillong to discuss security and development in the area.

The first day of the high-level talks was dedicated to discussing the development needs of the region and linking these to the problem of armed insurgency.

The prime minister is keen on developing the region

Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha announced that Delhi would invest in regional infrastructure, particularly in the areas of power, transport, information technology and communications.

He said if infrastructure and law and order improved in the region, investment from both domestic and international sources would come in.

Mr Sinha said his government wanted to develop several large hydro-electric power projects, particularly in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, which would go a long way to meet India's power shortfall in the next 20 years.

The finance minister stressed, however, that the states would have to maximise the mobilisation of their financial resources, cut back on wasteful bureaucratic expenditure, introduce crucial reforms and improve tax collection.


The finances of a number of north-eastern states have bordered on bankruptcy and some were only able to pay their employees after emergency funds were sent from Delhi.

Mr Sinha said that must now end.

The officials are also due to discuss the security needs of the north-east.

Home Minister LK Advani and Defence Minister George Fernandes will hold detailed talks with the region's leaders.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee told journalists that this was the first major attempt by any central government to hold such wide-reaching talks, aimed at evolving a co-ordinated approach to the defence and development needs of the Northeast.

India's north-east region is home to many armed groups waging insurgencies for separate homelands for tribal people.

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See also:
21 Dec 99 |  South Asia
New Year's peace offer for rebels
24 Sep 99 |  South Asia
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22 Nov 99 |  South Asia
Eight policemen killed in Tripura
15 Nov 99 |  South Asia
Rebel attacks in India's north-east
08 Aug 99 |  South Asia
Blast cuts off Indian north-east
22 Jul 99 |  South Asia
Tripura government 'will talk to rebels'

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