Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that peace has been established in the northeastern region, asserting that the region has the potential to become India’s growth engine.
“Road blockades have become a part of history in Manipur, the decades old violence in Assam has ended. In Mizoram and Tripura, youths also have deserted the path of violence and the Bru-Reang refugees (belonging to Mizoram) are now heading for a better life,” the Prime Minister said after laying the foundation stone of the Manipur water supply project via video link from Delhi.
He said that the government has been making constant efforts to further develop the region and connectivity and other infrastructure, including highways, railways and airports. “The laying of the foundation stone for the vital water supply project is an example of the fact that despite the abnormal situation triggered by the novel coronavirus, the government has not stopped working for the development and growth,” Modi said.
An externally-funded Manipur Water Supply Project is designed to provide Freshwater Household Tap Connections (FHTCs) to remaining households in Greater Imphal planning area, 25 towns and to 1,731 rural habitations, covering 2,80,756 households in 16 districts.
The Prime Minister said: “Until a vaccine is developed to cure the COVID-19, we have to robustly fight against the infectious virus and the developmental works also to be carried forward vigorously.”
Saying that better life is also directly linked to connectivity, he said that the connectivity of northeast is essential for a secure and sure “Atmanirbhar Bharat’. He said this would give a fillip to India’s ‘Act East Policy’ and that it would also provide a gateway to the country’s travel and tourism sector. The Prime Minister said that modern infrastructures are being developed in the northeast along with roadways, highways, airways, waterways and i-ways as well as gas pipelines.
“In the last six years, thousands of crores of rupees have been invested in the development of infrastructure, in the entire northeast.”
“Efforts have been made to connect the four capitals of the northeastern states, two lane roads to the district headquarters and all weather roads to the villages. To achieve this, about 3,000 km of roads have been laid and projects are being implemented to lay another 60,000 km of roads,” the Prime Minister added. He said there is a huge improvement in the area of rail connectivity in the northeast with projects to build new railway stations and convert the existing rail network into broad gauge.
“The work of connecting the capitals of every state of the northeast with a rail network is going on at a fast pace for the last two years. Apart from roads and railways, the air connectivity of North East is equally important. Today there are about 13 operational airports in the North East. More than 3 thousand crore rupees are being spent to modernise the existing airports in the North East including Imphal Airport,” he said.
Modi also referred to the more than 20 national waterways including the ones in the northeast region providing a seamless connectivity.
Funded by the New Development Bank, the Rs 3054.58 crore Water Supply Project is part of the Centre’s ‘Jal Jeevan Mission’ to provide safe drinking water to every rural household by 2024. The Central Government has provided funds under the mission to Manipur for FHTCs to cover 1,185 habitations with 1,42,749 households. The Manipur government has planned to cover the remaining households through additional sources of funding, including funds from the Department for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER).
“The Manipur Water Supply Project is an important component of the state government’s efforts to achieve the goal of ‘Har Ghar Jal’ by 2024,” said a government statement.
The ‘Jal Jeevan Mission’ aims to create a ‘Jan Andolan’ for water, thereby making it everyone’s priority. The official statement said that there are about 19 crore households in India out of which only 24 per cent have FHTCs. The Mission aims to provide 14,33,21,049 households with FHTC through partnership of all stakeholders including the state governments, Panchayati Raj institutions and local communities.
Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Sekhawat, Manipur Governor Najma Heptulla, Chief Minister N. Biren Singh, and his cabinet colleagues, MPs, and MLAs, senior officials joined the programme from Delhi and the state capital Imphal.