JORHAT, Feb 19 � Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh today said that the Government is thinking of introducing autonomous districts in the NE region to solve the problems of various indigenous communities. This would be a catalyst to solve the problems of the various insurgent groups demanding their own rights over their specific territories without breaking the national integrity.
Talking to mediapersons here, Dr Singh stated that the ULFA would play a neutral role in the forthcoming Assembly elections in Assam. No leader of the outfit would offer candidature in the ensuing election.
When asked about the peace talks with the ULFA, he said that a friendly relationship is necessary between both the parties to know each other. Now the process is gradually on to create the right atmosphere.
Talking about Majuli, the river island amid the Brahmaputra river throbbing with Satriya culture, the Prime Minister said that he himself took up the initiative for the recognition of the river island as one of the World Heritage Sites. But the State Government could not provide the required information to satisfy the UNESCO in this regard.
He also insisted on road and railway connectivity in the entire NE region. Better connectivity is necessary for the rapid growth of the economy in the region, he opined.
He also affirmed that the Congress would be back in power in Assam for another term as the present Government has been successful in meeting the needs of the common people.
Earlier, he laid the foundation stone of the second National Institute of Design in the country at Tocklai, Cinnamara here in the presence of Union Minister of DoNER BK Handique and Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.
In his inaugural speech, Dr Singh said that the need for design intervention for Indian products was first visualised by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
He said, �The development of the North-East has always been one of the priorities of the Government. This unique conglomeration of peoples, races, cultures, languages and religions has also unique needs of design development. The NID at Jorhat should leverage on the traditional craftsmanship of the region and help in giving a new life to the traditional arts and crafts in this area.� He added that at the same time the institute would come out with an eco-friendly design for adoption by the people of the North East for modern industrial goods so that the modernisation and preservation of the ecosystem can go hand in hand, he added.
Our Sivasagar Correspondent adds: Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, in a significant pre-election offer to the people of Assam, laid the foundation stone of the multi-crore-rupee Assam centre of the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology today at Palasani near the historic Sivasagar town. Proposed to be the second institute of its kind in the country after the first one set up at Rae Bareli, Uttar Pradesh, the institute would be a dream come true for the people of the district which did not have any institute worth the name since Independence. The Prime Minister was greeted by about 10,000 people as he landed from an IAF helicopter at the venue.
Addressing the crowd, the Prime Minister said that he had announced his government�s intention to set up a Petroeum Technology institute in Assam in August , 2008 as part of fulfilling former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi�s dream of taking the country on to the highway of science and technology. Dr Singh said that the RGIPT would strive to produce world-class human resources in the hydrocarbon sector, found abundantly in the district. The ONGC is at present producing 15 per cent of the country�s domestic production of crude oil.
The Prime Minister said that his UPA Government has an enduring commitment to develop Assam and the Assam Gas Cracker Project at Dibrugarh is also a proof of its commitment.
Earlier, S Jaipal Reddy, Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, addressed the meeting and thanked the Government of Assam for allocating
the required plot of land within a short time. He said that the RGIPT in Sivasagar is being set up with a capital fund of Rs 148 crore and another endowment fund of Rs 180 crore will be created for the entire project to be completed. He added that the ONGC, GAIL , OIL, BPCL, HPCL and OIL PSUs in the country have jointly contributed to the capital fund and the student enrolment capacity for BSc and MSc inPetroleum Technology would be 630 to be recruited through the AIEEE test.
Addressing the meeting, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi thanked the Prime Minister for generously sanctioning the mega project to Assam and said that his government would urge him for financial assistance for another bridge over the Brahmaputra river at Desungmukh. Minister of State for Petroleum RPN Singh offered the vote of thanks.