Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Friday the key to development in the North-Eastern region was better educational and services infrastructure and transport connectivity.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressing at the Platinum Jubilee Celebrations of Assam Legislative Assembly, in Guwahati on April 20, 2012.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the key to development in the North-Eastern region was better educational and services infrastructure and transport connectivity.
"As connectivity improves and capabilities expand, so will commerce and employment opportunities," he said in his inaugural address at the platinum jubilee celebrations of the Assam Legislative Assembly in Guwahati.
"The rapid improvement in the Assam’s human development indicators gives us hope and reason to believe that the progress Assam has recently experienced can be sustained over the long term. I see tremendous potential in this beautiful state for the growth of new industries that will generate employment for its young people and new avenues for local enterprises and professionals to flourish," he said.
Singh said the new wave of development in Assam had been made possible by a period of social peace and political stability. He said there was a general realisation today that violence provided no answers and that diverse groups could fulfill their aspirations only through engagement in the democratic processes.
"This feeling has in no small measure resulted from the fact that the government of Assam is working for the people and for their all-round betterment. I am sure that the few insurgent groups that continue to remain outside the democratic process will understand the sentiments of the people of Assam and come forward to create an atmosphere that is conducive for accelerating the pace of social and economic development in this great beautiful State of our Republic. Assam’s development can be the engine of growth for the entire north-eastern region as a whole," he said.
The Prime Minister said that, in recent years, the Government had taken new initiatives to strengthen the country's relations with Bangladesh and Myanmar. He recalled that last year he had visited Bangladesh. Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had accompanied him and the two countries were able to agree on a number of steps for mutual benefit, he said.
He said he was scheduled to visit Myanmar next month and discuss with the leadership of that country how they could increase opportunities for expansion of trade, economic cooperation and connectivity to the larger ASEAN region.
"Assam and the other states of the North East can and should play leading roles in our efforts to Look East-wards," he said.
Singh said he was originally scheduled to attend the function on April 7, which was the anniversary date of the Assam State Legislature but he had to reschedule the trip because of the visit to Delhi by Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari.
He recalled the contribution of leaders such as Gopinath Bordoloi and Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed to Assam and India and all the legislators who were elected to the Assembly over the decades, incuding former Chief Minister Hiteshwar Saikia.
"This legislative assembly is a temple of our democracy. It is a sacred place for us to reaffirm our Constitutional commitment to pluralism, to human rights, to secularism and to the dignity of every citizen.
Our freedom and our democracy are the proud inheritance of our national movement. To do justice to this inheritance, we, the elected representatives of our people, are obliged to provide honest, effective and capable leadership and government," he said.
Singh said Assam had been the beneficiary of over a decade of sustained progress, economic and social development.
"As an adopted son of this great State, I feel happy that Assam is now on the cusp of emerging as one of our frontline States. This august Assembly has also much to be proud about its past decade. It has been witness to many pro-people legislation and development-oriented initiatives," he said. Singh is a Rajya Sabha member from Assam.
"I compliment the state government for taking Assam to new heights of development. In the 9th Five year Plan period the state economy of Assam grew at the rate of just 1.51 percent. This increased to about 5.7 percent during the 10th plan period. Due to the special emphasis given to development by the governments in the State and at the Centre, Assam achieved an annual average growth rate of 6.8 percent during the first four years of the 11th Five year plan. I am delighted to learn that in the last year of the 11th Plan Assam is expected to record a growth rate of 7.18 percent. Assam is catching up with the national average. This is good news but more needs to be done," he said.
Singh said he would like to see Assam emerge as a new engine of growth for the North Eastern region and the country as a whole in the 12th Plan period (2012-17).
"I am confident that in the 12th Plan Assam will be able to record a rate of growth of over 9.0 percent! I assure the people of Assam that the Central government will do whatever is possible to help Assam to achieve this goal," he said.
He said that in the past eight years the Centre had tried its very best to extend a helping hand to the government and people of Assam.
"The annual plan outlay for the State has increased from Rs 3000 crore in 2005-06 to Rs 9,000 crore in 2011-2012. The total transfers to Assam for the period 2010-2015 as per the recommendations of the 13th Finance Commission would be about Rs 58,000 crore against the total of Rs 24,000 crore estimated for the period 2005-2010," he said.
He said the Assam Gas Cracker project, approved in April 2006 with an estimated cost of about Rs 8,000 crore, was progressing well and was likely to be completed in December 2013.
"A new 750 MW Bongaigaon Thermal Power Project at an estimated cost of about Rs 4400 crore was approved in January 2008. The project is likely to be completed in October 2013.
"During the 11th Plan period over 8000 km pucca roads have been constructed under the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana. More that 6 lakh rural houses have been constructed under the Indira Awas Yojana.
"Several externally-aided projects have been taken up in roads, flood management, power and urban development.
"A Centre of Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology has been set up at Sibsagar and a National Institute of Design is being set up at Jorhat," he said.
Singh expressed happiness that the state government had decided to build a new complex at Dispur to house both the Assam Legislative Assembly and the proposed Assam Legislative Council.