On 27th May 2016, Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi visited Shillong, Meghalaya where he attended North Eastern Council Plenary Meeting and flagged off new passenger trains to connect all Northeastern states with the railway network of the nation. Railway Minister Mr. Suresh Prabhu, Minister of State for the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region Dr. Jitendra Singh, Meghalaya Governor Mr. V. Shanmuganathan, and Chief Minister of Assam Mr. Sarbananda Sonowal and Chief Minister of Meghalaya Dr. Mukul Sangma were among the prominent leaders who were present there.

The Railway Ministry of India has invested Rs. 5000 crore for this project. Many states have been connected with this railway network, including Arunachal and Nagaland, Kamakya and Kashmir, Agartala and Nagaland etc. PM Modi believed that these measures will enhance the tourism in this region and upgrade the possibilities for mountaineering and adventure tourism.

While addressing people there, he mentioned about the contribution of the North East Council for the development of North East region. Now the expectations of the people have increased and to fulfill that, the council has to introspect and assess the extent to which it becomes able to achieve the objectives. PM Modi stated that the Centre has come up with a mission policy to upgrade telecommunication modes, roads, waterways and power systems in the region. This, along with the railway network, will give a boost to the economic development of the state. The fast pace development of railway connections has also increased the commissioning of lines from 68 km in 2011-12 to 537 in 2015-16. Moreover, there are 25 ongoing projects in the nation for which Rs. 29095 crores has been invested.

PM Modi also mentioned about other projects like Bhairabi-Sairang (Mizoram), Byrnihat-Shillong (Meghalaya), Dimapur-Zubza (Nagaland) and Sevok-Rangpo (Sikkim) which are set to be completed by the year 2020. In North East, the Indian Railway has commissioned about 900 Kms of Broad Gauge in the last two years and the remaining 50 km Meter Gauge Lines will be covered by the next year. Further, 3rd connectivity route to the North East region has been commissioned.

Shri Narendra Modi said, “I expect that no village in the country will be left without electricity by 2018. The government is implementing comprehensive telecom plan for Northeastern region at a cost of Rs 5300 crore.”

According to Shri Narendra Modi, there should be up gradation and development in necessary resources, knowledge and skills which will help to plan, execute, promote and research the innovative ideas and policies. The characteristic features of good governance, skill development and best practices can provide a key solution to the people. The other fields that need to be focused are startups, entrepreneurship, development and child education. He said that the government has been planning to opt pro-active “Act East Policy”. Along with this, the govt. has decided to provide assistance in the ratio of 90:10 for core Central schemes and 80:20 for non-core schemes to the North Eastern States.

Shri Narendra Modi mentioned about the establishment of two important projects in Assam- Brahmaputra Cracker and Polymer Limited and Numaligarh Refinery Limited’s wax unit which would create employment opportunities in the region. The rail and road route connectivity of North East and South East Asia will be an additional advantage for these projects as it has opened up the import-export activities which will boost up the economic development of the region.  The specialized highways construction agency for the North East “National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation” has also implemented 34 projects with a budget Rs. 10000 crore by covering a length of 1001 km. According to him, there must be the use of technology modes in the construction of roads in this region as it will ensure safe transportation during bad weather conditional and natural calamities.

The use of technology and improved internet connectivity for the projects also increased the development in many ways. Highlighting the natural scenic beauty, vast historical culture, and traditional heritage, PM Modi said that there is a great scope for the trekking and adventure tourism in the region and if these types of events are organized and promoted in a well-planned way, then it can emerge out as the biggest employment in this region. The North Eastern states can make the best use of the schemes to promote the tourist destinations so that people will get the chance to explore the beauty of nature with great fun and adventure. Along with, they should also focus on the connectivity modes and language skills which can help to understand the needs and desires of the tourists. He said that BPO services should be started to provide the complete information about the tour plans. It will also provide employment to the youth.

PM Modi mentioned about the achievement of Sikkim in farming because of which it has been declared as the first organic state in the country.  He said that the other states should learn the advancement in farming methods. People have become aware of the benefits of organic food and products due to which there is an increase in the demand for these supplies. The North East Council can assist the states to take the lead in this area and it will also contribute to the income of farmers.

PM Modi has a great vision for the rural population of India. For that, the government has initiated the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Mission in the economic, social and basic development of these areas into a cluster model.

Contributor: Sunpreet Kaur