Guwahati, Sept 08 : Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced that the North Eastern Council (NEC) will earmark 30 percent of its fund for focussed funding of priority areas and deprived sections of society in North East.
While inaugurating the 68th plenary of the NEC in Guwahati today Union Home Minister Shah begun his speech with a tribute to Dr. Bhupen Hazarika and said that the legendary artiste was a true ambassador who devoted his life for promoting the culture of the region. He at the same time urged upon the Regional Planning body to prepare a roadmap for development of the North East by 2022.
Union Home Minister Shah reiterated that the Centre does not have any plan to abrogate Article 371 of the Constitution which gives special status to the North Eastern States. Stating that the Union Government abrogated Article 370 as it was a temporary provision, the Home Minister said that there is no plan to tinker with any of the provisions of Article 371 which gives special provisions to some states.
Highlighting the deep relationship of the North East with other parts of the country since the mythological time of Mahabharata, the Union Home Minister said that NEC would work for preservation and promotion of culture and language of the North Eastern States.
Urging the North Eastern States to take leadership in the development narratives of the country, Shah observed that connectivity boost in terms of roads, air and water by the NDA Government would significantly help in catalysing NE region’s role in catapulting national development. He also reiterated that all the North Eastern States would be connected through railways and airways by 2022.
Stating NE States’ less population density in terms of its huge land mass, the Union Home Minister said that this proposition has made the region an epicentre of development. He urged the States to take up bamboo mission as priority sector and work for amicable settlement of inter-state border issues.
The Union Home Minister further reiterated that not a single infiltrator would be allowed to stay in the region as the Government’s zero tolerance policy against illegal migration and insurgency would continue unabetted. Shah, in his speech also highlighted various development milestones achieved during last five years in the North East.
While speaking at the plenary session, Chief Minister of Assam Sarbananda Sonowal urged the NEC to play an important role in the implementation of Act East policy with special focus on issues relating to trade, investment, tourism, connectivity and building relations with Southeast Asian countries in close coordination with various ministries of the Government of India.
Stating that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has outlined his vision for development of North East through improvement of connectivity, expeditious completion of infrastructure projects and provision of basic amenities in every household, the Chief Minister expressed confidence that the NEC as a planning body would be successful in giving a renewed push to development in the region under the leadership of Union Home Minister and Chairman of NEC Amit Shah.
In order to project North East as a hub of opportunities and generate awareness in ASEAN region, Sonowal requested the NEC to start hosting a festival highlighting North East in each of the ASEAN countries to project its rich heritage, culture, handloom & handicrafts, industrial and tourist potential. He also proposed for youth exchange programmes between North East India and ASEAN countries with focus on sports and culture besides setting up of a Language Academy to facilitate teaching as well as research on different languages spoken in the Northeast vis a vis ASEAN and BBIN countries.
Chief Minister Sonowal requested the NEC to provide special assistance to the North Eastern states to realize their export potential and suggested that the existing North East Industrial Development Scheme 2017 may be made more friendly to reap rich dividends of the business potential of the North East in view of the Centre’s Act East Policy.Underlining State government’s initiatives to promote organic farming in a big way, the Chief Minister urged the NEC to provide necessary support to Assam Government for setting up an Organic Agriculture University stating that a proposal with DPR for the same has already been submitted to the planning body.
Further stating that flood, erosion and landslide has assumed alarming proportion not only in Assam but in the entire north eastern region, he urged the government to consider river erosion as eligible calamity for providing assistance under NDRF and SDRF. He also sought holistic intervention in the entire river basin to attend the problem of flood and erosion. He expressed hope that the Northeast Water Management Authority constituted as per direction of the Prime Minister would be successful in putting into place a permanent solution to this long-standing problem.
Sonowal also requested necessary steps to consider a dedicated Disaster Mitigation Fund exclusively for the North East to enable the State governments to take preventive measures against the endemic problem of riverbank erosion, landslides, earthquakes and floods. Further urging the NEC to tap the waterways potential of the region, the Chief Minister observed that expressways on both banks of Brahmaputra would benefit all North Eastern states in promoting safer and faster transport as well as in maintaining navigability of Brahmaputra besides providing protection against erosion of river banks.
Sonowal further requested the NEC and DONER toset up more medical colleges in the North East apart from establishing KendriyaVidyalayas and Navodaya Vidyalayas in the region. The Chief Minister also urged upon the NEC for taking a special scheme to protect the forest wealth of the North East along with setting up of a Presidential Retreat in the North East.
Moreover, the Chief Minister hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah for the historic step to strengthen complete national integration by abrogating Article 370 and 35A of the Constitution.He also expressed deep gratitude to the Prime Minister for conferring the Bharat Ratna on Dr. Bhupen Hazarika posthumously in recognition to his immense contribution towards nation building.
Addressing the session, Union DoNER Minister Dr. Jitendra Singh said that,North East Council has been given its highest budgetary allotment of Rs. 1476 crore for the year 2019-20. Dr. Singh said that the target has been set to upgrade North East Council as a state- of -the- art resource centre. He said that various steps have been taken by the Council in other parts of the country for the benefits of the people belonging to North East.
Governors and Chief Ministers of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura also delivered their speeches at the plenary session. Chief Secretaries and DGPs of North Eastern States, officials of NEC, officials of the Government of India and North Eastern States were present at the plenary session.