Ahead of the Assembly polls in the State, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday inaugurated three key development projects in the oil and gas sector besides inaugurating and laying the foundation stone of Dhemaji Engineering College and Sualkuchi Engineering College respectively. The projects are undoubtedly a welcome initiative for the State’s fledgling development process that will go a long way in capacity building in the energy and education sectors. They will also open up vistas of employment at a time when the unemployment incidence is worryingly high in the State. Despite the fact that oil was discovered in Assam more than a century back, we still have a lot to achieve in terms of enhancing the capacity of our refineries, not to mention the urgency of increased production – things that will boost self-reliance. Development in order to be inclusive has to embrace every section of society and it is through effective harnessing of our resources and more importantly, ensuring easy access to the fruits of progress to the economically weaker sections that real development can be effected. The BJP-led Centre deserves credit for enhancing the reach of LPG connection to cover almost the entire populace now. As the Prime Minister observed, the pain of shortage is endured only by the poor and marginalized segments and it is for the Government to facilitate a development process that embraces one and all.

The engineering college at Dhemaji is another significant initiative, especially when viewed against the backwardness of the North Bank. This area has suffered a lot due to years of neglect by successive governments. Connectivity, health, education and industry have poorer presence in this landscape compared to the south and this needs to change for ensuring even development in the State. The past few years have seen some important additions in terms of connectivity including the Bogibeel bridge, a long-pending need of the North Bank. The broad-gauge railway lines have also reached the North Bank while works on the second Kolia Bhomora bridge over the Brahmaputra and the four-lane national highway are under progress. As the Northeast has over the years lagged behind the rest of the country in terms of connectivity and infrastructure, it also created a disturbing cycle of underdevelopment, unemployment and strife. Getting out of the quagmire which is attributable largely to decades of neglect will be tough but not impossible. This is where the Centre will have to give a sustained focus to the region. The governments in the north-eastern States will also have to be pro-active and proceed with a vision for harnessing the region’s latent potential in diverse sectors. Skill development and generating self-employment avenues will be critical for the region’s development. The foremost need is to identify the key areas to focus on and go about developing those in a sustainable manner.