THADLASKEIN (MEGHALAYA), March 14 - Union Minister for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Dr Jitendra Singh today said that the Meghalayan Age event would go a long way in positioning Meghalaya as a much sought- after tourist destination.
The DoNER Minister also appreciated the State Government for scaling down the festival. �You heeded to our suggestion to curtail the Meghalayan Age event, made it crowd-free, and transformed it into a brief, more or less ritualistic valedictory session with only a few government officials around, in view of the coronavirus pandemic,� the minister said.
�The event was planned in a very big way, but due to the advisory issued by the Central Government, the event has been scaled down to a conclave, where different stakeholders were given an opportunity to delve into the immense potential that Meghalaya can open up to visitors,� said Dr Singh.
�In the last five years, the Government of India has provided adequate thrust to create better infrastructure and promote development of the North East,� he stressed. The DoNER Minister maintained that under the leadership of the Prime Minister, his ministry�s budget has increased twofold.
�Prior to formation of the NDA Government, the budget for the North Eastern Council (NEC) was roughly around Rs 700 crore. However, it has been increased to about Rs 1,400 crore now. We have different plans to promote and ensure welfare of the region,� Dr Singh said.
Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said the Meghalayan Age is an attempt by the Government to showcase the potential and uniqueness of the State. He said that the Centre has accorded the required attention to the North East, which is paving the way for concerted development and growth of the region.
�The Meghalayan Age is an attempt by the Government to provide an opportunity to visitors to experience Meghalaya. We had big plans for the event; however, due to the health advisory on coronavirus, we restricted the event for invited stakeholders, who comprise media professionals, tour operators and bloggers, who will share our stories with the world,� said the Chief Minister.
Referring to the Act East Policy, Sangma stressed the need to explore the possibility of working in collaboration with neighbouring countries in the fields of tourism, culture and economy.
�We have realised the potential with our immediate neighbour, Bangladesh. That country is moving very fast, it has a growth rate of almost 8 per cent, and their GDP is about USD 400 billion. We have to look at the opportunity next door and build relations that would economically benefit our people,� said the Chief Minister.
Sangma said emphasis has been given to attract investments and ensure a sustainable development model of growth in sync with nature.
Renowned cave explorer Brian Kharpran, who participated in the conclave, said that in the past two decades, they have explored 1,700 caves running into 514 km, which has led to discoveries of unique and exclusive species, the latest being the discovery of the largest cave-dwelling fish. He said the event has given them the platform to tell their stories to a wider audience.
A book on tourism titled Glimpses was also launched on the occasion.