NEW DELHI, Jan 31 - Dubbing the northeastern States as �Ashtalakshmi� that can take India to new heights, President Pranab Mukherjee today said the government is focusing on reducing isolation of the eastern region and the Northeast by improving connectivity.
Addressing the joint sitting of Parliament, Mukherjee said India is opening up road and rail routes to neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia to boost economic development of the region.
�My government sees the northeastern States as Ashtalakshmi that can take India to new heights. The Northeast is the gateway to Southeast Asia. We are opening up road and rail routes to our neighbouring countries to boost economic development of the region,� the President said.
Reiterating that balanced and equitable development of all the regions is vital to India�s progress, he said: �Under its proactive �Act East� policy, my government is focusing on reducing the isolation of the eastern region and the Northeast by improving connectivity through road, rail, air, telecom, power and waterways.�
Spelling out steps taken by the government to �ensure unhindered support and development of the States� of the region, Mukherjee said: �My government is continuing with the special dispensation in the assistance pattern to the northeastern States and is providing assistance in the ratio of 90:10 for core Central schemes and 80:20 for the non-core schemes to these States.�
He further said that by the end of the year, all the metre gauge rail tracks of the region will be converted into broad gauge and the Railways has undertaken a major expansion in the region at a cost of Rs 10,000 crore.
Paying special attention to the region�s natural landscape, Mukherjee said: �The beauty and diversity of the Northeast make it a natural hub for tourism. The Ministry of Tourism has identified a thematic circuit for the Northeast.�
Highlighting various steps taken by the government to uplift the region, he said the Northeast BPO promotion scheme in the Digital India programme for creation of employment opportunities has already been approved.
Additionally, he said: �The Brahmaputra Cracker and Polymer Limited and Numaligarh Refinery Limited wax unit are big projects that will create huge employment opportunities in the Northeast.�
Mukherjee also said the government has provided special financial assistance to mitigate the damage caused by the unprecedented floods in the hilly and other areas of the country.
On the security situation in the northeastern States, he said it has �also shown significant improvement� while overall in India, �there has been considerable success in containing Left-wing extremism over the last three years, with the surrender of over 2,600 extremists�.