New Delhi: The northeast has the potential to become the country's growth engine, PM Modi said on Thursday, noting peace is now being established in the entire region. He made these remarks at the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the Manipur Water Supply project via a video link. While blockades have become a part of history in Manipur, the era of decades of violence has ceased in Assam, the PM said in his address.
In Tripura and Mizoram too, youngsters have abandoned the path of violence and the Bru-Reang refugees are moving towards a better life, he added. Modi noted the government is making constant efforts to improve connectivity in the northeast, be it highways, laying of rail tracks or upgrading airports.
The foundation stone-laying programme, he said, is an example of the fact that even during the crisis triggered by the coronavirus, the country has not stopped working.
Till the time a vaccine is developed, everyone has to vigorously fight against the virus and the development works should also be carried forward with full force, he said. Referring to the “Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan” (self-reliant India campaign), the PM said clusters are being developed for value addition and marketing of local products, where all facilities will be given to agro startups and other industries.
He said the northeast has the potential to replace the country’s bamboo import with local production. There is a huge demand for incense sticks in the country, but for this, India imports bamboo worth crores of rupees every year. Modi said a huge investment is being made under the National Bamboo Mission, which will benefit youngsters in the northeast and startups.
Speaking on the water supply project, he said it is a big day for lakhs of people of Manipur, including the residents of its capital Imphal, as it will reduce their water woes.
The women will especially benefit as they will not have to travel for kilometres to fetch clean water, the prime minister said.
Noting that a better life is directly linked to connectivity, he said the connectivity of the northeast is essential for a secure, sure and self-reliant India.
Connectivity would give a fillip to India's Act East Policy and also provide a gateway to the country's travel and tourism sector, Modi said.
The prime minister referred to the more than 20 national waterways, including those in the northeast, which would provide a seamless connectivity.
He said the northeast represents the country's cultural diversity and strength, while pointing out that the region has a great tourism potential, which still remains unexplored.
Even as the country is fighting relentlessly against COVID-19, eastern and northeastern India also had to face the dual challenge of heavy rains and floods, which cost several lives and rendered many homeless, the prime minister said, adding that the Manipur government took all the necessary measures during the nationwide lockdown and made special arrangements for the return of migrants.
He said about 25 lakh poor people in Manipur have received free foodgrains under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana. Similarly, more than 1.5 lakh women in the state were given free gas cylinders under the Ujjwala scheme, he added.
Referring to the water project, Modi said it has been designed keeping in mind the needs of the next 20-22 years, adding that lakhs of people will get access to clean drinking water while thousands will get employment.
He said water connections are being provided to about one lakh households in the country every day.
"Every day, we are removing such a big worry of water from the lives of one lakh mothers and sisters," he said.
The externally-funded Manipur Water Supply project was designed to provide freshwater household tap connections (FHTCs) to the remaining households in the Greater Imphal planning area and 1,731 rural habitations, covering 2,80,756 households in all 16 districts of the state.
The project outlay is Rs 3054.58 crore, with a loan component funded by the New Development Bank.