Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Sunday urged the North Eastern Council (NEC) to play an important role in the implementation of the Act East Policy with focus on issues relating to trade, investment, tourism and connectivity.
He also suggested the council to start hosting a festival in each country of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to promote the north eastern states of India as “hub of opportunities”.
“We are confident that the NEC as a planning body would be successful in giving a renewed push to development in the region under the leadership of Union Home Minister and NEC Chairman Amit Shah,” Sonowal said in his address at the NEC’s 68th plenary session.
The North Eastern Council is the nodal agency for the economic and social development of the region which consists of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura.
He also said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had already outlined his vision for development of the North East through improvement of connectivity, completion of infrastructure projects and provision of basic amenities in every household.
Sonowal requested the council to “start hosting a festival” in each ASEAN country highlighting North East’s rich heritage, culture, handloom and handicrafts, industrial and tourism potential.
India’s Act East Policy, which focuses on the extended neighbourhood in the Asia-Pacific region, provides an interface between North East India and the ASEAN region.
Sonowal also proposed youth exchange programmes between North East India and ASEAN countries with focus on sports and culture, besides setting up of a language academy to facilitate teaching and research on different languages spoken in the region.
He requested the council to provide special assistance to the states in the region to realise their export potential.
Sonowal said Assam government has taken several initiatives to promote organic farming and urged the NEC to provide “necessary support for setting up an Organic Agriculture University for which a proposal with detailed project report has already been submitted to the planning body”.
He also sought holistic intervention in the entire river basin to solve the problem of flood and erosion.
“We hope the Northeast Water Management Authority, constituted as per direction of the Prime Minister, will be successful in providing a permanent solution to this long- standing problem”, the Chief Minister said.
Sonowal also requested the centre for necessary steps to consider a dedicated Disaster Mitigation Fund exclusively for the region to enable the state governments to take preventive measures against the problems of riverbank erosion, landslides, earthquakes and floods.
He also urged the NEC for taking a special scheme to protect the forest wealth of the region.