SHILLONG, July 9: Addressing the plenary session of the North Eastern Council (NEC) at the State Convention Centre here, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said that the NE region remained backward for so many decades in spite of being endowed with immense natural resources and this scenario is now all set to change with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision to make North East the ‘New Engine’ of India’s growth.
Implementation of Act East Policy by the Central Government is a big step towards fulfilling this vision and the region would derive huge benefits out of this policy in terms of tourism, investment and trade, he asserted.
Highlighting the need to harness the potential of the region to become an ITES and IT hub which is crippled by poor internet bandwidth, the Chief Minister urged the NEC to support BSNL in payment of rentals for the initial few years so that it can bring high speed internet bandwidth to Assam and other north-eastern States from Cox Bazar landing station in Bangladesh through fibre optics. This is going to be a game changer in propelling the region to achieve fast paced growth and catapult NE as an IT hub of the SE Asian region, he opined.
“The NEC can also take up with External Affairs Ministry to simplify existing visa regime including introduction of provisions like visa-on-arrival to improve people-to-people contact and facilitate easy movement within SE Asia for furthering tourism, trade and commerce,” he suggested.
Sonowal informed that the Centre has declared 15 new national highways with length of 1025 km apart from the 31 State roads with aggregate length of 1846 km have also been declared as national highway ‘in principle’. But he stated that implementing agency NHIDCL’s work is far from satisfactory and sought Centre’s intervention in directing NHIDCL to speed up construction and at the same time maintain the existing roads in traffic-worthy condition till completion of the projects.
The Chief Minister also highlighted the need for inter-state as well as international cooperation for tackling insurgency activities in the region and efficient handling of security threats emanating from various terrorist outfits. He also called on NEC to play an active role in chalking out programmes for promoting brotherhood amongst communities living on both sides of inter-State borders for peaceful resolution of border disputes between the States.