GUWAHATI, Sept 8 - Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal today requested the Centre to consider a dedicated Disaster Mitigation Fund exclusively for the North East to enable the State governments to take preventive measures against the endemic problem of riverbank erosion, landslides, earthquakes and floods.
Speaking at the 68th plenary session of the North Eastern Council (NEC), Sonowal stated that flood, erosion and landslide have assumed alarming proportion not only in Assam but in the entire northeastern region. He urged the government to consider river erosion as eligible calamity for providing assistance under NDRF and SDRF. He also sought holistic intervention in the entire river basin to attend the problem of flood and erosion. He expressed hope that the Northeast Water Management Authority constituted as per direction of the Prime Minister would be successful in putting into place a permanent solution to this long-standing problem.
He further urged the NEC to tap the waterways potential of the region and observed that expressways on both banks of the Brahmaputra would benefit all the northeastern states in promoting safer and faster transport as well as in maintaining navigability of the Brahmaputra, besides providing protection against erosion of river banks.
Sonowal also urged the NEC to play an important role in the implementation of the Act East policy with special focus on issues relating to trade, investment, tourism, connectivity and building relations with South East Asian countries in close coordination with various Union ministries.
In order to project the North East as a hub of opportunities and generate awareness in ASEAN region, Sonowal requested the NEC to start hosting a festival highlighting the North East in each of the ASEAN nations to project its rich heritage, culture, handloom and handicraft, industrial and tourist potential. He also proposed for youth exchange programmes between the North East and the ASEAN with focus on sports and culture, besides setting up of a Language Academy to facilitate teaching as well as research on different languages spoken in the North East vis-�-vis ASEAN and BBIN countries.
He also requested the NEC to provide special assistance to the NE states to realise their export potential and suggested that the existing North East Industrial Development Scheme 2017 may be made friendlier to reap rich dividends of the business potential of the North East in view of the Centre�s Act East Policy. Underlining the State government�s initiatives to promote organic farming in a big way, he urged the NEC to provide necessary support to Assam for setting up an Organic Agriculture University, stating that a proposal with DPR for the same has already been submitted to the planning body.
Sonowal further requested the NEC and DoNER to set up more medical colleges in NE apart from establishing Kendriya Vidyalayas and Navodaya Vidyalayas in the region. The Chief Minister also urged the Council to adopt a special scheme to protect the forest wealth of the North East along with setting up of a Presidential Retreat in the region.