February 4, 2023 2:40 pm


Nurturing The ‘Ashtalakshmi Of India

Northeast has seen a spurt in development activities in recent times. Central Government has made an earnest effort to hasten growth in the Northeast, and The "Act East" policy of the Modi Govt. has contributed significantly to it.

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The eight years of the Modi Government have ushered in unparalleled growth in the Northeast. The Act East Policy (AEP) launched by the Prime Minister in 2014 has strengthened the focus on economic, strategic, and cultural relations as well as the development of the Northeastern regions. Modi government also ensured highest ever representation of the Northeast in the Cabinet.

Northeast has seen a spurt in development activities in recent times. The commissioning of 23 new air routes, the country’s longest rail-road bridge Bogibeel, AIIMS at Guwahati, National Sports University in Manipur, and Bamboo technology parks in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh are some of the highlights of the Centre’s initiative in Northeast. Among other achievements include the lifting of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act from some areas of the region, peace treaties with various insurgent groups, a 74% reduction in insurgency-related incidents and 60% decrease in the casualties of personnel of security forces.

The “Act East” policy of Modi includes a major drive for the construction of new roads and railway tracks as well as numerous measures to stimulate the local economy. While the majority of the infrastructure projects have been completed, Modi’s northeast agenda has helped the BJP win over the general public with its discourse of inclusivity.

The government has broad-gauged 900 km of railroads that span the entirety of Tripura. Between Agartala and Delhi, it also introduced the Rajdhani Express and the Tripura Sundari Express. In 2016, Suresh Prabhu, who was the railway minister at the time, lay the cornerstone for the 88-km, Rs 2,315-billion Dhansiri-Kohima railway track. It connects Kohima to the national rail network. Imphal, Aizawl, and Shillong railway projects were also started by the government, and more than a dozen new trains have been launched in the areas.

Infrastructure development in the Northeast is part of Modi’s “Transformation by Transportation” programme. Connectivity issues have been a significant barrier to the region’s economic development. The general public is drawn to Modi’s promise of ensuring better connectivity in the region. The Special Accelerated Road Development Programme (SARDP-NE) was launched by the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways on the Prime Minister’s proposal to enhance the country’s road network in the northeastern States. In addition to providing road connectivity to underdeveloped and distant areas, key locations, and neighbouring nations, this initiative aims to provide road connectivity to all district offices in the northeastern region by a minimum 2-lane highway standard.

Over the past seven years, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has allocated more than Rs 3,400 crore for the refurbishment of airports in the North East. The development of Rupsi Airport, a new integrated airport, and an engineering workshop were some of the aviation projects in the Northeast. Other projects included the expansion and renovation of the existing terminal building and runway at Dimapur, the installation of an instrument landing system (ILS) at the Shillong Airport, and the operationalization and development of the Tura Airport.

Modi dedicated the 60-MW Tuirial hydropower power project, which made Mizoram the third power-surplus state in the Northeast, to Sikkim and Tripura. 251 million power units are estimated to be produced annually by the project. Additionally, in 2018, the government made the decision to abandon its prior 90 percent cost-sharing policy in exchange of fully funding a number of Central projects that would be implemented in the Northeast going forward.

Looking at Meghalaya’s development in the hands of BJP, we can see that the state also benefitted at a great extent through the policies devised for the Northeast. On his address on the 50th statehood day of Meghalaya, Modi stated “I am glad that the people of Meghalaya have strengthened their identity of being close to nature in the last 50 years. Meghalaya is becoming an attractive place for the country and the world for its beautiful waterfalls, for its clean and serene environment and for connecting with your unique tradition. Along with their talent in the arts, Meghalaya’s young people have been boosting national pride in sports. India has great expectations from Meghalaya’s vibrant sports culture as it works to establish itself as a prominent force in the world of sports.

Over the past seven years, the Central Government has made an earnest effort to hasten Meghalaya’s growth. Better rail, road, and aviation connectivity are all priorities for the national government. Priority work is being put into finding new domestic and international markets for locally produced organic goods. Centralized programmes for the general public are being worked on quickly under the guidance of the young chief minister Conrad Sangma ji. Programmes like the PM Gramin Sadak Yojana and the National Livelihood Mission have had a significant positive impact on Meghalaya. 33 per cent of Meghalayan families now have access to clean drinking water, higher compared with just 1% in 2019. This growth may be attributed to the Jal Jeevan Mission. Meghalaya has become one of the first states in the nation to administer corona vaccines using drones as the nation moves toward adopting the technology extensively for the delivery of public utilities. This image depicts a Meghalaya that is evolving.”

The prime minister also referred to the state’s expanding prominence in the area of organic farming. According to him, “Sisters of Meghalaya have revived the art of bamboo weaving, and its hard-working farmers are strengthening Meghalaya’s identity as an organic state

The phenomenal development of Meghalaya and the Northeast has also allowed for the greater inclusivity of the seven sisters. With the NDA holding their power in all the seven states of the Northeast compared to the times before 2016 when BJP did not have any seats in any of the Northeastern states, it is obvious that the party has been able to connect to the people and understand their voices better than ever.

Union Minister and former Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal was correct when he some time back asserted that while Congress gave little importance to the eight states of the North East, Prime Minister Narendra Modi discovered “Ashta Lakshmi” eight forms of Goddess of Wealth in the Northeast.

TIA Fellow
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