STATE TIMES NEWS
Shillong/Agartala: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday asserted his government has removed all obstacles that came in the way of Northeast’s development.
Launching a slew of development projects in poll-bound Tripura and Meghalaya, he said improved air connectivity to the region has increased agricultural exports, benefitting farmers.
In Tripura, he said the northeastern state was earlier known for conflict but after the BJP came to power in 2018, it is now known for development, connectivity and cleanliness.
Addressing a public rally at Swami Vivekananda Maidan in Agartala, he said Tripura is becoming a logistics hub and is also emerging as the new gateway of trade in the Northeast, which would be connected with South East Asian countries such as Myanmar and Thailand.
He said the 15-km-long Agartala-Akhaura railway project to connect Northeast with Bangladesh would be completed next year.
“Crores of rupees have been invested in infrastructure after the BJP came to power in Tripura. National Highways are getting a massive facelift,” he said, adding new possibilities are beckoning the state after an international standard airport has come up.
Lashing out at the Opposition, he alleged ration meant for the poor used to be looted before the BJP came to power in the state.
“Now, poor people are receiving their rightful ration without any trouble. They have been getting free ration for the last three years,” he said.
Modi claimed that development had bypassed indigenous people for long.
The prime minister alleged that the Opposition is “masters in spreading negativity”, pulling the reverse gear when the state needed an escalator.
“The double-engine government has a positive outlook as well as determination to implement development work on the ground,” he said.
Modi claimed that the saffron party is the first choice of the indigenous people because of its positive attitude and cited the party’s good performance in tribal regions of Gujarat in the recent assembly elections.
Earlier, he inaugurated a slew of development projects worth over Rs 4,300 crore in the poll-bound state.
He launched the ‘Grih Pravesh’ programme for more than two lakh beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana — Urban and Rural — schemes.
“Over two lakh poor families are getting their own homes today and the majority of them are mothers and sisters of Tripura,” he said.
Modi launched widening works of Agartala bypass from Khayerpur to Amtali, which will decongest the city, and also inaugurated State Institute of Hotel Management and Agartala Govt Dental College and IGM hospital (Agartala).
He also laid the foundation stone of 32 roads of total 323 km length under PMGSY-III, and 112 road projects with 542 km length.
Modi said cleanliness has become a mass movement in the last five years, and as a result, Tripura has emerged as the cleanest among small states of the country.
Through the PM Matru Vandana Yojana, every lactating mother is getting money in their bank accounts, he said, adding that institutional delivery is being done so that the mother, as well as the child, is healthy.
He said the focus of the government is on all-round development of Tripura and the projects launched during the day will give a fillip to the northeastern state’s growth trajectory.
Modi held a separate meeting with the council of ministers and returned to Delhi on a special air force aircraft.
He had earlier apologised to people assembled at the rally ground as he landed around two hours late from Shillong, where he had gone to attend the golden jubilee celebration of the North East Council (NEC).
Earlier in the day, addressing a public meeting in Shillong, Modi said the NDA government has shown the red card to many obstacles that came in the way of development for Northeast.
“Obstacles such as corruption, discrimination, violence and vote bank politics were removed,” the PM said in his 26-minute speech.
“Earlier, attempts were made to divide NE. Now, we are removing these divisions,” Modi said at the meeting.
He also inaugurated, dedicated and laid the foundation stone for multiple projects.
Among the projects inaugurated, one is the sprawling campus of the IIM-Shillong at the New Shillong Township.
The prime minister, who arrived in Shillong in the morning, attended the golden jubilee celebrations of the NEC at the State Convention Centre, along with Union Home Minister Amit Shah and several other Union ministers and dignitaries.
Modi, on the occasion, released ‘Golden Footprints’, a commemorative volume chronicling NEC’s contribution towards the development of the northeast over the last 50 years, according to an official statement.
A short film on NEC’s journey of 50 years was also screened on the occasion, the statement said.
In the closed-door meeting, Modi hailed the contribution of NEC to the development of the region.
Describing the eight states of the region as Asht Lakshmi’ (eight forms of the goddess of wealth), he said that the government should work on eight foundation pillars for the development of NE.
The eight ‘foundation pillars’ are peace, power, tourism, 5G connectivity, culture, natural farming, sports and potential.
“The Northeast is our gateway to South East Asia and can become a centre for the development of the entire region. And to realise this potential of the region, work is underway for projects such as Indian-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway and Agartala-Akhaura rail project,” the statement said.
Many peace agreements have been signed, inter-state boundary agreements sealed and there has been a marked reduction in instances of extremism, he said.
In the last eight years, the number of airports in the region has jumped from nine to 16, and that of flights has increased from about 900 before 2014 to around 1,900, he said, adding that many northeastern states have come on the railway map and efforts are being done to expand the waterways also.
The length of national highways in the region has increased by 50 per cent since 2014.
Modi also talked about the potential of the region in the hydropower and tourism sectors. Speaking on the occasion, Shah said the Modi government has established peace in the Northeast which was once a militancy-affected region.
He said Modi has visited the region over 50 times in the last eight years and laid out the roadmap for the region’s progress.
“Northeast was known for violence and separatism but during the last eight years, rebellious incidents have come down by 70 per cent. Attacks on security personnel have also been reduced by 60 per cent while civil casualties have come down to 89 per cent,” he said. The North Eastern Council is the nodal agency for the economic and social development of the region. It was constituted in 1971 by an Act of Parliament. However, it was formally inaugurated on November 7, 1972.