Silchar, Sept 20: Paying his rich tributes to the great attributes of a wise and efficient parliamentarian, Bimolangshu Roy, former BJP MLA and leader of the opposition in Assam Assembly on his sixth death anniversary, Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma, Minister of Health and Education, said, “It was his ability and political wisdom with which he made a place of distinction as MLA from this town of Silchar, a honour that he donned from 1996 to 2006. He was a well known orator and single-handedly challenged the government on vital issues.” Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma was presenting his views on the oration ‘Act East thru North East’ organized by the Bimolangshu Roy Foundation last night in the packed Banga Bhawan auditorium here.
Taking a cue from the video conferencing on north east development by Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, Union Railway Minister, from Mumbai, and the immense potentiality of the region to develop, Dr. Sarma gave a political perspective to it and in his own inimitable manner put forth his arguments convincingly to the delight of the assembly. He said Prime Minister rendra Modi gave a new dimension to the Look East policy of Dr. Manmohan Singh, former premier, as Act East. Before Independence, the per capita income in Assam was higher than any part of the country. The partition of the country struck at the root of the economy. “It has to be revived”, pointed out Dr. Sarma.
The greatest problem for economic revival, as he outlined, is connectivity. Presently, north east is connected with the main land through 22 km chicken neck corridor. The travel time from Guwahati or Silchar to Kolkata takes 46 hours. Through Bangladesh, it will be 35 hours only. “Our corridor through Bangladesh has to be reestablished which will be not only economical but also faster and quicker”, said Dr. Sarma. Besides, Brahmaputra waterways has to be explored. All this can play a big role in reviving the economy.
Quite justifiably, rendra Modi is emphasizing on connecting north east with South Asian countries. “We have to look to Bangladesh and Myanmar for boost up and also the corridor that links both the countries. Myanmar could be our best friend which is a big economy with abundant agriculture products, tural gas and rich resources”, said Dr. Sarma. The priority should be to have economic bond. The coming up Trans Asian Highway and the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project through this bond will be of great benefit to the region. He however clarified, “Connectivity is not the only solution. Trade and commerce have to be equally developed in this age of globalization.”
“Chi and Thailand have already set up special economic zone in Myanmar. India cannot look back. Otherwise, connectivity will be one way and our markets will be flooded with Chinese and Myanmarese goods. Sylhet has also much more advanced today. Challenges are many. Planning has to be converted into action if India wants to market its goods and products,” said the Minister. It is therefore important that along with transportation, infrastructure has to be built up, trade agreement signed and eco system made vibrant. In other words, pointed out Dr. Sarma, north east has to develop its own economy with Government of India ready to give eco system.
“Our priority is to be ‘Make in Assam’ and ‘Make in North East’. Pharmaceutical companies can be brought here and establish brand Assam on the drugs and medicines which have higher demand in South Asian countries. Reputed private hospitals like Apollo can be invited to set up their treatment centre here. It is also necessary to create good medical infrastructure in Guwahati and Silchar. At the sometime, political friendship with Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh and other countries in the neighbourhood has to be strengthened”, he pointed out.
Considering the flow of students from South Asian countries, a university of excellence can also be planned about. Tourism, now a great industry, has also to be given push and boost up in order to attract tourists. He made it clear, “The economic fortune of north east is linked with South Asian countries.” Water resources have also to be exploited along with the rich tural gifts of the region. In other words, as he summed up, “Move in the right direction and on right path to make Act East practicable”.