Pushpita Das replies: India’s border areas are plagued by poor accessibility, inadequate infrastructure, depressed economic growth, rampant poverty and a sense of insecurity among the people. The development of border areas has therefore been envisaged as an important element in border management. Towards this end, the Border Area Development Programme (BADP) was initiated as early as 1987 along the India-Pakistan border to ‘meet the special development needs of the people living in remote and inaccessible areas situated near the international border’. The programme was later extended to cover all of India’s international border areas including the Northeast in 1993-94 under the Eighth Five Year Plan. The BADP has three primary objectives: (a) to create infrastructure (b) provide economic opportunities to the border people, and (c) to instil a sense of security among them.
As far as the Northeast is concerned, the performance of BADP has been unsatisfactory as its intended goals are far from being achieved. The findings of an Evaluation Study on Border Area Development Programme by the Niti Aayog reinforces this fact. According to the report: “32% of the people of Manipur, 54% people of Mizoram, 40% people of Nagaland and 54% people of Tripura settled in these remote areas are not satisfied with BADP”. An overwhelming number of people in Tripura (82%), Sikkim (78 %) and Manipur (50%) did not feel secure living along the border areas. Similarly, a large proportion of people residing in these areas complained of inadequate infrastructure. The study also found that the BADP was unevenly implemented in these states, as large villages were able to get most of the work done under the programme while smaller villages failed to receive much attention.
The ineffectiveness of the BADP in the Northeastern states can be attributed to a number of reasons. Difficult terrain coupled with restrictions put by the BADP guidelines often hamper the implementation of the programme. Corruption, political interference, meagre funds, faulty schemes, and absence of local participation in decision making process have robbed the programme from devising schemes which are beneficial to the people residing in these areas. Opaqueness in financial dealings has resulted in either siphoning off the funds meant for the development of the border areas by corrupt bureaucrats and politicians or being utilised in schemes outside the border areas. In most instances, development funds lie unused due to lack of proper coordination and planning. The BADP can be made effective only with greater participation of the local people together with total transparency in utilisation of funds.
(Posted on December 02, 2016)
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