New Delhi: The Union cabinet on Wednesday approved the nomination of the home minister as the ex-officio chairman of the North Eastern Council (NEC).

The NEC is an apex regional planning body and comprises governors and chief ministers of all the eight northeastern states as its members.

The cabinet also approved that minister of state (Independent Charge) for the ministry of development of north-eastern region (DoNER) would serve as vice chairman of the council.

The development comes in the backdrop of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government pushing the economic agenda in these strategically located states, especially with respect to the long-pending infrastructure projects.

“This repositioning of NEC will help it to become a more effective body for the North Eastern Region," the government said in a statement.

Developing the Northeast has been a key priority for successive governments. The cabinet’s decision comes at a time when Japan has joined hands with India to aggressively develop infrastructure projects in the northeastern states.

“The Council shall, from time to time, review the implementation of the projects/schemes included in the project; recommend effective measures for coordination among the state Governments for these projects etc. The Council shall have such powers as may be delegated to it by the Central Government," the statement added.

In other decisions, the Union cabinet approved an extension of the tenure of the commission constituted to examine the issue of sub-categorizations within the Other Backward Caste quota. The commission will now have time till 31 July.

The Cabinet also cleared a proposal to enact a dam safety bill which aims to strengthen surveillance and inspection of dams. A go-ahead was also given to the planned monetization of 3.7 acres of land at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi. In order to give a fillip to agricultural education, the cabinet committee on economic affairs approved the continuation of an action plan with an outlay of over Rs2200 crore.

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