Shillong, May 27 : Assam’s new Chief Minister, Sarbananda Sonowal, spoke at the closing of the two-day 65th Plenary of the North Eastern Council, in Shillong.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in attendance as the Chief Guest. The Chief Minister said Assam being the largest state in the North East is the gateway to all North Eastern states, and remains at the forefront of all regional initiatives.

“Though remoteness of the North East Region is considered a big hindrance for development, an extensive use of Digital India, the Prime Minister’s pet programme can go a long way in addressing the problem,” Sonowal said.

Prime Minister Narandra Modi has asked all of his Council of Ministers to visit the North East regularly.

Sarbananda Sonowal.

Sarbananda Sonowal

North East Development

Sonowal expressed his gratitude to the Prime Minister, and said the gesture shows his commitment to the development of the North East.

The CM said the development of India and the North East are closely linked. Sonowal said the latest technologies and management techniques can be used to help speed up the region’s development.

The Chief Minister committed his government to simultaneously develop the Brahmaputra Valley, Barak Valley and the two Hill Districts. He said the greatest level of development in Assam can be achieved with the right mix of human and natural resources.

“Assam, the largest state in the NorthEast Region having 30 per cent of land area and 68 per cent of total population of the Region, supports enhancement of the allocation for NEC and a rational distribution of funds among the states of the region. All the states of the North East should have a collective endeavour to secure additional funds for the development of their respective states,” Sonowal said.

Sonowal suggested that since it is becoming increasingly difficult for the states to make government land available, the NEC should allow the cost of land to be incorporated in the DPR for acquiring project land, for some types of projects.

The Assam CM also said the North East Chief Ministers, all of whom were present, should work together to preserve and judiciously harness the region’s rich bio-diversity to bolster the Region’s development agenda.

Sonowal asked the PM to consider special treatment for the North East, to expedite its economic growth.

“Under the leadership of the Prime Minister and his programmes like Make in India, Digital India, North East should be in a position to reap the dividends of ‘Acchedin’,” Sonowal said.

The new Chief Minister’s words were in line with what he said last week. After winning the election, he said his government would “initiate all round development with 24×7 power and water supply, ensure 100 percent irrigation coverage of arable lands, offer employment to 25 lakh youths, and withdraw oral interviews for 3rd & 4th category government  jobs in the State etc.”

Panchayati Raj System in 6th Schedule Areas

Assam Governor PB Acharya suggested introducing the Panchayati Raj System in 6th Schedule Areas would strengthen both the local economy and democracy in those areas.

Acharya also suggested mobilising women’s groups, self-help groups and others, to channel their energy into a grass-roots social transformation.

“North East’s natural resources, bio diversities, unique and diverse demographic profile and the Region’s proximity with South East Asian Nations call for a concerted and synergistic efforts towards its development and NEC which has been mandated to bolster its development can play a lead role,” Acharya said.

As well as the Governors and Chief Ministers of all the other North Eastern States including Sikkim and other dignitaries, Dr. Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of Development of North Eastern Region was present.

About 

Hemanta Kumar Nath is a correspondent and photojournalist based in Assam, India, who reports on local news in Assam, the north east Indian state.