Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal attended North Eastern Council’s 67th plenary session at State Convention Centre on Monday in Shillong which was chaired by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said, “The Look East Policy has been changed to The Act East Policy. We are trying to ensure in all eight states, sectors such as infrastructure strengthening, manufacturing, trade, tourism, skill development, urban renewal, smart cities, and ‘Make in India’ get emphasized”.
Urging the NEC to play its part in preparing a broad roadmap towards realizing the objectives of the Government’s “Act East Policy” for forging a link between India and ASEAN, Singh expressed optimism that the newly set up NITI Forum for North East would be able to accelerate the growth of the region by identifying various constraints.
Calling on the Chief Ministers of the region to avail the opportunity provided by North East Industrial Development Scheme (NEIDS) 2017, cleared by Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister in March 2018, Singh said that the financial outlay of Rs3,000 crore offered by the scheme upto March, 2020 would promote industrialization in the States of NE and boost employment.
He acknowledged that there is a marked improvement in security situation in state of Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur while States of Tripura, Mizoram and Sikkim are completely free from insurgency.
Speaking at the session, 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 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.
The chief minister also urged the NEC and the Ministry of DoNER to take up issues of infrastructure projects like roads, waterways, airways and telecom for better connectivity with South East Asia with cooperation of the concerned Ministries of Government of India.
“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”, Sonowal suggested.
Referring to opening of consulates of Bangladesh and Bhutan in Guwahati, he pitched for more such consulates of ASEAN countries in the city and relaxation of restricted area permit required for coming to North Eastern Region for the ASEAN countries.
Focusing on the need to address the problems of flood and erosion affecting Assam and other NE states in a holistic manner to find permanent tangible solutions, Sonowal said proper and judicious harnessing of water resources of the region can contribute immensely to the national GDP growth.
Chief MinisterSonowal, during his speech, also put forth proposals for setting up a North East Organic Agriculture University by NEC for which Assam would provide land, an organic certification agency for the whole region and he also called for facilitating growth of bamboo-based industries here.
The Minister of State for Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region and Vice Chairman North Eastern Council Dr Jitendra Singh gave details of NEC history and changes from time to time. He said that the Ministry has brought DoNERto the doorsteps of the North East Region.
Governors of Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Sikkim, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Tripura and five other chief ministers from the NE states of Meghalaya, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland delivered their speeches at the plenary. Top officials of NEC and DoNER ministry were also present.