AIZAWL, June 12 - The Centre is committed to fast-tracking the development initiatives in the northeastern region, especially in border areas, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said today addressing a meeting of the chief ministers of the four northeastern states that share border with Myanmar.
Singh said the northeastern region is immensely rich in human and natural resources and its ethnic and linguistic diversities enrich India�s cultural heritage. �Our government is committed to fast-tracking of development in the northeastern region. Work on road and rail network extension is going on. We want to extend these networks to border areas,� he said in his opening remarks in the meeting that discussed Indo-Myanmar border issues.
The meet was attended by Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju, besides Pema Khandu, N Biren Singh and Lal Thanhawla, chief ministers of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Mizoram respectively, and Nagaland Home Minister Yanthungo Patton.
The international border with Myanmar is considered to be porous with cross-border movement of insurgents and smuggling of arms and ammunition is common there. Singh praised the Assam Rifles that guards the Indo-Myanmar border, stating that the paramilitary force is performing its duty with courage and determination.
Under the Border Area Development programme, the four states � Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram � bordering Myanmar received Rs 567.39 crore during the last three years, Singh said.
This is for the first time that such a meeting has been called to discuss issues concerning Myanmar border with active participation of the state governments. The chief secretaries, directors general of police (DGPs) of the states, director general of the Assam Rifles and senior officials from the central ministries concerned were also present at the meeting.
Later in the evening, addressing the media, the Union Home Minister said that he has constituted a committee to examine the existing free movement regime along the Indo-Myanmar border, which he said has been misused by militants and smugglers.
India�s 1,634-km-long border with Myanmar, touching four states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram, has a visa-free movement regime for the people living within 16 km on either side.
�This regime has been in place keeping in view the traditional social relations among the border people. It helps the genuine people living in the close proximity of the border. However, it is misused by militants and criminals who smuggle weapons, narcotics and other contraband,� he said.
�For preparing a standard operating procedure... so that militants and contraband are filtered at the border without causing inconvenience to genuine people, I have decided to constitute a committee to be headed by Special Secretary (internal security) to examine the existing rules and regulations adopted by the border states for implementation of free movement regime along the border,� he said.
The committee will submit its report on uniform and effective implementation of free movement regime within three months, he added.
The Union Home Minister also met Mizoram Governor Lt Gen (Retd) Nirbhay Sharma at Raj Bhavan here.