GUWAHATI, June 10 - The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, in its second term, should expedite the pace of implementing the Act East policy for the overall development of the North East, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma has said.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, Sangma also said that cutting across party lines, all the Members of Parliament from the North East should work together on development issues in the interest of the region.
Sangma pointed out that the NDA retained power at the Centre with a very convincing margin and the expectations of the people are also very high. He said that in its first term in office, the NDA government laid emphasis on the development of the North East and took up a number of projects. In its second term, the NDA government should focus on expediting the pace of implementation of the Act East policy, which is vital for the economic growth of the region, he added.
Sangma said that major stress should be laid on connectivity, one of the most important parameters for development. He said the government must give top priority to road, air, rail and waterways connectivity for the growth of the region. He said the North East has immense potential for attracting tourists and the Centre should lay stress on tapping this potential. The entire region depends mostly on agriculture and the Centre can play a major role in the development of this sector. The Centre can also play a major part in development of education in the region, he added.
The Meghalaya Chief Minister said that infiltration is a major problem not only for Meghalaya but for the entire region. He said that Meghalaya has more than 440 km of the international border with Bangladesh and that is why, infiltration of foreigners is a major threat for the State.
He expressed the view that apart from physical barriers, the government should also work for economic development of the people on both sides of the international border to check infiltration. �I believe that economic activities on both sides of the international border can help check the problem of illegal migration as only putting up of physical barriers like fencing will not solve the problem,� he added.
The half-completed Tura airport has been lying unused for years and Sangma revealed that surveys for installation of equipment and extension of runways have been completed. He hoped that the Centre would soon take steps to introduce flight services to Tura.
Sangma is planning to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several other Union ministers this month to discuss issues relating to development of not only Meghalaya but the entire North East.
Meanwhile, Sangma is of the view that in matters of development of the North East, all the MPs of the region should cut across party lines and work together. His late father PA Sangma, who was also a Lok Sabha Speaker, had formed a common platform of MPs of the region to take up common issues. �Politics should not come in the way of development,� he said.
He revealed that he already had talks with several MPs from the region and hoped that the MPs would be able to sit together during the ensuing Parliament session later this month.