In a step which will further boost development and connectivity in the region, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today laid the foundation stone, and inaugurated and dedicated to the nation multiple projects for Meghalaya and North East region worth over Rs 2450 crores.
During his visit to Shillong today, Modi dedicated to the nation 4G mobile towers, of which more than 320 have been completed and around 890 are under construction.
He also inaugurated the new campus of IIM Shillong at Umsawli and also inaugurated Shillong-Diengpasoh Road, which will provide better connectivity to the New Shillong satellite township and decongest Shillong.
He also inaugurated four other road projects across three states – Meghalaya, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.
The Prime Minister inaugurated the Spawn Laboratory at Mushroom Development Centre in Meghalaya to enhance mushroom spawn production and also provide skill training for farmers and entrepreneurs.
Modi also inaugurated the Integrated Beekeeping Development Centre in Meghalaya to improve the livelihood of beekeeping farmers through capacity building and technology upgradation. He further inaugurated 21 Hindi libraries in Mizoram, Manipur, Tripura and Assam.
The Prime Minister laid the foundation stone of six road projects across the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura.
He also laid the foundation stone of the Integrated Hospitality and Convention Centre at Tura and Shillong Technology Park Phase -II. The Technology Park Phase -II will have a built-up area of about 1.5 lakh square feet. It will provide new opportunities for professionals and is expected to create more than 3000 jobs.
The Integrated Hospitality and Convention Centre will have a convention hub, guest rooms, food court etc. It will provide the necessary infrastructure for promoting tourism and showcasing cultural heritage in the region.
The Prime Minister informed that the central government is spending Rs 7 lakh crore only on infrastructure this year, while eight 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 infrastructure.
Giving examples of infrastructural developments in the North East, Modi highlighted the fast-paced work to connect all the capitals of the North East including Shillong with rail service and the increase in number of weekly flights from 900 before 2014 to 1900 today.
The Prime Minister informed that under the UDAN scheme, flights are on 16 routes in Meghalaya and the result is cheap airfares for the people of Meghalaya.
Highlighting the benefits to the farmers of Meghalaya and North East, the Prime Minister informed that the fruits and vegetables grown here are easily accessible to the markets of the country and abroad through the Krishi Udaan scheme.
The Prime Minister drew everyone’s attention to the connectivity projects that have been inaugurated today and informed that Rs 5000 crore rupees have been spent on the construction of the national highways in Meghalaya in the last eight years while the number of rural roads built in the last eight years under the Pradhan Mantri Sadak Yojana in Meghalaya is seven times more than what was built in the previous 20 years.
Talking about the increasing digital connectivity for the youth of the North East, the Prime Minister informed that optical fibre coverage has increased four times in the North East and five times in Meghalaya when compared to 2014.
He further added that 6000 mobile towers are being erected to take mobile connectivity to every part of the region with an outlay of Rs 5000 crores.
“This infrastructure will give new opportunities to the youth of Meghalaya,” the Prime Minister emphasised.
Regarding education infrastructure, Modi commented that with IIM and the technology park education, earning opportunities will increase in the region. He also informed that North East is witnessing the construction of more than 150 Eklavya schools out of which 39 are in Meghalaya.
The Prime Minister gave the example of the Parvatmala Scheme which is building a network of ropeways and the PM Devine scheme which is going to give a new impetus to the development of North East by ensuring easy approval of big development projects.
He added, “A budget of Rs 6,000 crore has been fixed for the next 3-4 years under PM-Devine.”
Reflecting on the ‘divide’ approach of the previous ruling governments for the North East, the Prime Minister remarked that our government has come up with ‘divine’ intentions.
“Be it different communities, or different regions, we are removing all kinds of divisions. Today, in the North East, we are laying emphasis on building corridors of development, not borders of disputes” he said.
The Prime Minister observed that in the last eight years, many organisations have shunned the path of violence and have taken refuge in permanent peace.
Speaking about the needlessness for AFSPA in the North East, the Prime Minister remarked that the conditions are constantly improving with the help of the state governments while boundary disputes between the states which were going on for decades are being resolved.
The Prime Minister said that the North East is a gateway to security and prosperity instead of just a border area at the frontier. The Prime Minister elaborated on the vibrant village scheme under which border villages are being provided with better facilities. The Prime Minister lamented that due to the fear of benefiting the enemy, the border areas did not witness the spread of connectivity. “Today we are boldly building new roads, new tunnels, new bridges, new railway lines, and airstrips on the border. Desolated border villages are being turned vibrant. The speed needed for our cities is needed for our border too.” The Prime Minister said.
Highlighting the politics of peace and development adopted by the government, Modi said that the biggest beneficiary of this is our tribal society.
“The development of tribal areas is the priority of the government while maintaining the tradition, language and culture of the tribal society,” he said.
Giving the example of abolishing the ban on bamboo harvesting, the Prime Minister informed that it gave impetus to the manufacture of tribal products associated with bamboo.
“850 Van Dhan Kendras have been established in the North East for value addition in the produce obtained from forests. Many self-help groups are associated with them, many of which belong to our sisters,” he informed.
Modi said that social infrastructure like houses, water and electricity have massively benefited the North East. In the past few years, two lakh new households received electricity connection.
“More than 70,000 houses were approved for the poor and three lakh households got piped water connections. Our tribal families were the biggest beneficiaries of these schemes,” he said.
The Prime Minister said that the North East 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, the government has gone beyond the conversion of the ‘Look East’ policy to ‘Act East’, and now its policy is ‘Act Fast for North East’ and ‘Act First for North East.’