Guwahati: Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarded the eight northeastern states as ‘Ashta Lakshmi’, the eight forms of the goddess of wealth, and his “visionary policies” would soon make the region the biggest contributor to the country’s GDP, BJP president Amit Shah said today.
He also slammed the Congress, which had ruled the region for long, for taking development in the region to its “lowest level”.
Except for the Congress-ruled Mizoram, the other northeastern states are governed by the BJP, independently or with its allies.
“At the time of Independence, the Northeast had a very high growth rate but the region, which was mostly ruled by the Congress, was reduced to the lowest level of development,” Shah said after laying the foundation stones of 19 cancer care hospitals in the state, set up in partnership with the Tata Trust.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, his Arunachal Pradesh counterpart Pema Khandu and Tata Trust chairman Ratan Tata were present on the occasion.
The BJP has been in power in Assam for only two years but it has been successful in instilling confidence in people that the state will soon become a developed state, he said.
“The Prime Minister has always regarded the Northeast as ‘Ashta Lakshmi’ and given prime importance to its development by focussing on road and rail connectivity, IT sector development, energy, industrial development and education facilities,” he added.
The prime minister is focussed on growth of the region through the Act East Policy.
Painting a larger picture, the BJP president asserted that the Narendra Modi government had formulated a very ambitious and effective health policy which would benefit 50 crore people in the country.
“Earlier, basic health facilities was a dream for the poor in the country but the Prime Minister’s Ayushman Bharat initiative that led to the formulation of the country’s health policy last year will benefit 50 crore people or 10 crore families,” Shah said.
The government has also set up generic medicine stores with 400 medicines, he said, highlighting the “revolutionary steps” the Union government had taken in the field of health.
The government’s “Mission Indradhanush” will ensure vaccination of 18 crore children in the country.
“These steps should have been taken much earlier but it was the Prime Minister’s vision that led to the execution of such revolutionary steps in the health sector,” Shah added.
Referring to the 19 cancer care hospitals in Assam, Shah said that Northeast has a very high prevalence of cancer and every year more than 60,000 cancer patients go to the metros for treatment of the dreaded disease, draining the finances of the affected family.
He thanked Tata Trust Chairman Ratan Tata for partnering with the Assam government in setting up the hospitals.
Chairman of Tata Trust Ratan Tata said on the occasion that cancer was a silent killer with the Northeast having a high incidence of the disease.
“We appreciate that the central and state governments have decided to launch a battle against cancer and tackle the disease on a war footing,” Tata said.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal thanked the Prime Minister and Ratan Tata for their help and cooperation in setting up these 19 hospitals.
All the 19 hospitals will be established under the supervision of Assam Cancer Care Foundation to be headed by state health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and the Tata Trust and would be based on a three-tier system and will be constructed under the L3 (Level 3), L2 (Level 2), L1 (Level 1) divisions.
The L3 hospitals will maintain the basic standards of a hospital and will be located in Barpeta, Diphu, Dhubri, Jorhat, Silchar, Tezpur, Lakhimpur, Nagaon and Dibrugarh.
The L2 hospitals will maintain the surgery standards and will be set up in Goalpara, Haflong, Karimganj, Kokrajhar, Golaghat, Darrang, Nalbari, Sivasagar and Tinsukia.
The L1 hospital will have sophisticated standards and will be in Guwahati.
Tata Trusts will give Rs 830 crore, while the Assam government will put in Rs 1,080 crore, making it an initial corpus of Rs 1,910 crore for the project, the chief mini