Proposal to fix NEC members’ tenure awaits cabinet decision
A note proposing to fix the tenures of two full-time members of the North Eastern Council (NEC) at three years, extendable by no more than two years, is lying with the Union cabinet for consideration.
The draft cabinet note also proposes that the condition of the appointment of the two full-time members be decided by the Union government.
The Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) is also understood to have written to the law ministry for advice on the same issue.
HT had earlier reported how two ex-bureaucrats, both in their late seventies and having retired from active government service nearly two decades ago, continue to be full-time members of the North Eastern Council (NEC) — enjoying minister-of-state status and all the perks and amenities that come with it.
The members are mandated to frame development planning strategies for the eight northeastern states — Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Tripura and Sikkim.
The NEC Act-1971 was substantially altered in 2002, paving the way for the appointment of two full-time members. Interestingly, the amendments, which were drafted by one of the members in question, did not have a retirement clause for members.
“Because of the loophole in the legislation, these of two members are continuing with the NEC as full-time members. Now it is up to the cabinet to take a call,” said a source on the condition of anonymity.
"It is high time for a generational change in developmental planning for the Northeast region. It is imperative to infuse new and energetic blood, with dynamism for a region that is seen as a vital area in the context of recent Look East policy initiatives,” the source added.
The Centre’s Look East policy seeks to focus on intensive economic ties with the east and south-east Asian nations instead of the traditional West-looking model. In such a scenario, the Northeast region, which has closer cultural ties with those countries, will be a vital link.
Set up by an act of Parliament, the NEC is mandated to formulate and forward proposals to secure the balanced development of a region that has remained economically backward — with many parts bogged down by decades-old insurgency situations.