Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said that the NDA government has gone beyond the conversion of the ‘Look East’ policy to ‘Act East’, and now its policy is ‘Act Fast for Northeast’ and ‘Act First for Northeast.’
“Northeast is our gateway to South-East Asia and can become a centre for development of the entire region. And to realise this potential of the region, work is going on the projects like Indian-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway and Agartala-Akhaura rail project,” he said addressing the golden jubilee celebration of the North Eastern Council at State Convention Centre. Union Home Minister and NEC chairman Amit Shah, Governors and Chief Ministers of seven north-eastern states, Union ministers– Kiren Rijiju, Sarbananda Sonowal and Kishan Reddy participated in the celebrations.
Underscoring that he often refers to the eight states of the region as ‘Asht Lakshmi’, Modi said the government should work on eight foundation pillars for its development, viz. Peace, Power, Tourism, 5G connectivity, Culture, Natural farming, Sports, Potential.
Discussing India’s commitment towards net zero, Modi said North East can become a powerhouse of hydropower. He said hydropower will make the states of the region power surplus, help in expansion of industries and generate a large number of jobs.
On tourism potential, the Modi said that both culture and nature of the region are attracting tourists from across the world. “Tourism circuits are being identified and developed in the region also,” he said, adding that students from 100 universities to Northeast, which will help bring people of different regions closer and these students can then become ambassadors of the region.
In order to boost road infra connectivity in the region, Modi said that iconic bridge projects which were pending since several decades have now been completed.
“In last 8 years, the number of airports in the region has jumped from 9 to 16, and the numbers of flights have increased from about 900 before 2014 to around 1900. Many North eastern states have come to the Railway map for the first time and efforts are being done to expand the waterways also.”
“The length of national highways has increased by 50 per cent since 2014 in the region. With the launch of the PM-DevINE (Prime Minister’s Development Initiative for North East Region) scheme, the infrastructure projects in the Northeast have gained more momentum,” Modi said.
Further, Modi informed that the government is also working on improving digital connectivity in the North East by increasing the optical fibre network.
The Prime Minister also discussed India’s G20 Presidency and said that its meetings would witness people from all over the world coming to the Northeast. “This will be an apt opportunity to showcase the nature, culture and potential of the region,” Modi said.
NE gateway to security & prosperity: Modi
Addressing a public gathering at Polo grounds here after inaugurating and laying the foundation of several projects in Meghalaya worth over Rs.2,450 crore, Modi said that the Northeast is a gateway to security and prosperity instead of just a border area at the frontier.
Modi lamented that due to the fear of benefiting the enemy, the border areas did not witness the spread of connectivity.
“Due to this notion of the previous governments, the connectivity in the northeast and other border areas of the country was not developed,” he said.
Modi, however, said that the BJP-led NDA government had launched Vibrant Village scheme under which border villages are being provided with better facilities.
“It’s an important scheme called the Vibrant Village scheme. Under this scheme villages in the border areas would get better facilities and this would be would benefit the northeast,” Modi said.
Emphasising the government’s commitment to fearlessly develop the border areas of the North East, the Prime Minister said, “For the NDA government, the North Eastern region and its border areas are not just the frontiers of the country, but “gateways to development and posterity.”
The Prime Minister Narendra used soccer as a metaphor for development in the North East, saying that his present government has red-carded several obstacles that came in the way of development in the region just like in football for violating sportsmanship.
“It’s a coincidence that today (Sunday) there is the World Cup final and also we are in a football field amidst football lovers. We are speaking about development in a football field. Since there is football fever all around then why not speak in the language of football,” Modi said.
“In football if anyone goes against sportsmanship spirit they are shown the red card and sent off the field. Likewise, we have since 2014 red-carded all hurdles in the way of the development of the northeast,” Modi said.
He said the red cards were shown against “corruption, divisiveness, dynastic politics, violence, delays in projects implementation and vote bank politics.”
Modi further said that for any nation “trade and commerce” originates in these border areas and so the Central government is concentrating hard to develop these areas fast.
Stating that these areas would be developed at the same pace as any other part of the country, the PM said, “Once these areas are developed it would boost tourism and also stop rural migration to the cities.”
On the inter-state border dispute, he said, efforts are being taken to resolve these issues and do away with all sorts of divisions. “Border issues between states are being resolved…Now in the northeast we are building corridors of development and not borders of conflicts,” he said.
Further, the Prime Minister informed that the central government is spending Rs 7 lakh crore only on infrastructure this year, while 8 years ago this expenditure was less than Rs 2 lakh crore.
He also pointed out that states are competing within themselves when it comes to boosting infrastructures.
On the law and order situation in the region, the Prime Minister said, many organizations have chosen the path of peace and development by renouncing violence and the government is trying to lift the Armed Force Special Powers Act in consultation with state government in as many parts of the region as possible.