The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, has underlined the Government`s resolve to accord priority to the development of the North-East. He was speaking at the flagging-off of the first train from Mendipathar, Meghalaya to Guwahati by remote, and unveiling the plaque for a new rail line from Bhairabi to Sairang, in Guwahati today. He described this as an important occasion in the history of Indian Railways, when a state was being added to the rail network.
He said that he has heard that according to Vastushastra, if the North-East corner of the house was maintained well, then the entire house could be taken care of. He said that all he knew was that if India has to be prosperous, then development of North-East was a priority.
The Prime Minister said infrastructure is the first step towards development. Once infrastructure is developed, the people can themselves contribute a lot to development, he added. The Prime Minister gave the example of South Korea to show how infrastructure creation could spur growth and development. He said if good connectivity was established across the eight states of the North-East, the entire region would prosper, and tourism would flourish.
The Prime Minister said that the first Union Budget of the new Government has committed Rs. 28,000 crore to the development of new railway lines in the North-East.
The Prime Minister said that the whole world acknowledges that this century is Asia`s century. Therefore the need of the hour is to extend the "Look East" policy to an "Act East" policy, and to connect the entire region with Myanmar and countries beyond.
The Prime Minister said India now needs next-generation infrastructure - consisting of both highways and i-ways (information ways). He said there should be no digital divide, and the vision of Digital India also encompasses the North-East. Why should there not be a gas-grid, why should we not get electricity for all 24 hours, the Prime Minister asked, expressing confidence that next-gen infrastructure would be the key to building a modern India. He said a good optical fibre network would lead to immense opportunities for the North-East.
The Prime Minister said he is taking special interest in the development of the North-East, and had discussed connectivity during his recent visit to Myanmar for the ASEAN-India Summit and East Asia Summit.
The Prime Minister said the Railways can be an engine of economic growth. He expressed disappointment that its potential had not been recognized in this fashion so far. He said his Government would expand and modernize the Indian Railways. He spoke of both horizontal expansion of railways - expanding the network across India, and vertical expansion of railways - which means capacity building, technology upgradation and better services. The Prime Minister said that India had allowed 100 percent FDI in Railways, to spur the process of modernization of Indian Railways. He said the Government is also considering privatization of Railway Stations to promote economic activity.
The Prime Minister said Railways need dedicated expertise and technology upgradation. In order to build human resource for this purpose, the Government would set up four Universities for the Railways, and graduates from these Universities would be able to contribute to the Indian Railways, also getting employment in the process.
The Governor of Assam Shri JB Patnaik, the Governor of Meghalaya and Mizoram Dr. Krishna Kant Paul, the Chief Minister of Assam Shri Tarun Gogoi, the Chief Minister of Meghalaya Dr. Mukul Sangma, the Chief Minister of Mizoram Shri Lal Thanhawla, the Union Minister for Railways Shri Suresh Prabhu, the Union MoS (IC) for Sports Shri Sarbananda Sonowal and the Union MoS Home Shri Kiren Rijiju were present on the occasion.