PM unveils 2020 vision for a ’shining northeast’ (Lead)

July 2nd, 2008 - 8:34 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, July 2 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday unveiled a roadmap to spur all-round development of the northeast region by 2020 and announced the linking of all state capitals there by rail and road to ensure better connectivity. Launching a charm offensive to woo the people of the northeast region who have often complained of being neglected and alienated from the rest of India, Manmohan Singh formally launched the ‘Northeastern Region Vision 2020′ report in the presence of chief ministers and governors of seven northeastern states and cabinet ministers.

Over 1,000 students dressed in colourful ethnic attire of various northeastern states were present at the launch ceremony at Vigyan Bhavan here. “The North Eastern region is the land of the rising sun for India. The time has come for the sun to shine on it and shine brightly,” said Manmohan Singh, who is a Rajya Sabha member from Assam.

Stressing on the need to replace violence in the insurgency-prone region with “inclusive development” and creating a “second green revolution” in the region, he said the “union government will do its utmost to make this vision a reality”.

The vision document promises to usher in a new era of peace and prosperity in the region through a multi-pronged strategy that includes spurring private investment and industrial development, empowerment of the people by maximising self governance, rural development, increasing agricultural productivity and augmenting infrastructure in the region which continues to lag behind in most development indicators.

“Infrastructure deficiency is a major concern in the region. We will link all the state capitals in the region by rail network and Rs.31,000 crore (Rs.310 billion, around $8 billion) will be invested on roads during the 11th plan,” he said.

Alluding to a slew of power and transport projects that are under way to bridge “the infrastructure gap,” the prime minister announced that some new rail links like the Kumarghat-Agartala railway line, the Jiribam-Tupu-Imphal railway line, which will put the Manipur valley on the rail map of India, have been approved.

He also announced that a greenfield airport will come up at Itanagar to connect the region with the rest of the country and said that all villages on the Arunachal Pradesh border will soon be electrified at a cost of Rs.550 crore (Rs.5.5 billion, approximately $130 million).

Education is another high priority. “We are committed to inclusive and equitable growth. We will set up a NTFT and IIT at Shillong,” Manmohan Singh said.

The prime minister exhorted businessmen from India and abroad to invest in the development of the northeast region.

Pitching strongly for making the northeast region an economic hub, Minister for Development of the Northeastern Region Mani Shankar Aiyar said the region requires Rs.14 lakh crore (Rs.14,000 billion or $350 billion) in investment and stressed that the development of the region will push India’s growth rate to double-digit figure.

Aiyar also underlined the government’s efforts to dovetail India’s look east policy with the development of the northeastern region, which share 98 percent of its border with Bhutan, China, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Nepal.

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