NE can become major centre of tourism: Shah

NEW DELHI, Sep 27: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday said the country’s northeastern region with its rich natural beauty, culture and art can emerge as a major centre of world tourism.

Inaugurating the ‘Destination North East-2020’, a four-day event showcasing the region’s rich heritage, diversity and tourism potentials, Shah said that under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the NE region would emerge as one of the favourite tourism and business destinations of India.

“Northeast, rich in natural beauty, folk culture and art, is fully capable of becoming a major centre of world tourism,” he said.

The home minister said that ‘Destination North East-2020’, which will continue till 30 September here, aims to introduce various cultures of the country to each other, “along with the tourist destinations of the Northeast, and through this the whole of India will also get familiar with the vibrant and diverse culture of the region.”

Shah said he has seen the tourist places of many states and countries but the beauty of the Northeast is unparalleled.

“Northeast is the jewel of India and without it the Indian culture is incomplete,” he said.

Inviting the next ceremony to be organized in his constituency Gandhinagar, Shah said it would familiarize the people of the Northeast with the culture of Gujarat while the people of Gujarat will be introduced to the culture of the Northeast.

The home minister said peace in the Northeast is very important for economic development, promotion of tourism and employment in the region.

“The Northeast, which was once in the news due to terrorism, blockades and violence, is now known for development, tourism, organic farming, industry and startups, and this has been possible due to Modi’s leadership in the last six years,” he said.

Shah said a lot of work has been done to establish peace in the Northeast under the leadership of Modi.

The land boundary agreement with Bangladesh, end of blockade in Manipur, signing of the Bodo agreement and the surrender by 641 operatives of eight militant groups were among the notable achievements of the Modi government, he said.

The home minister said that, after becoming the prime minister, Modi has visited the Northeast more than 30 times – most by any prime minister since independence. He said development is not possible without proper funding, and that earlier, plans were made for the development of the Northeast but the amount allocated for the region was very less.

The 14th finance commission increased the allocation for the Northeast by 251 percent to Rs 3,13,375 crore, whereas the previous government through the 13th finance commission had given only Rs 89,168 crore, he said.

Shah also said that, adopting an all-inclusive and all-encompassing model of development, the Modi government has decided to spend 21 percent of the budget of the North Eastern Council on the backward districts, villages and deprived communities.

The home minister said the Modi government has made a huge effort in the direction of linking the northeastern states among themselves and connecting the region with the rest of India by rail, road and air links.

Under this, he said, six railway projects worth Rs 15,088 crore have been completed, Rs 553 crore will be spent on the development of airports, and about Rs 10,000 crore has been allocated on 19 road projects of 869 kms length.

Shah said that, during the coronavirus pandemic, the Modi government has provided all health facilities to the people of the Northeast, including medicines and treatment, through teleconference by AIIMS doctors.

He called for making the Northeast a hub of tourism, industry, IT and organic farming to increase the Northeast’s participation in the country’s GDP by 2024.

After independence, he said, the region’s share in the country’s GDP was about 20 percent, “which has come down now.”

Union DoNER Minister Jitendra Singh and the chief ministers of the eight northeastern states were present on the occasion.

‘Destination North East’ is a calendar event of the DoNER ministry, conceptualized with the objective of taking the region to other parts of the country and bringing them closer in order to strengthen national integration.

For ‘Destination North East-2020’, the theme is ‘The emerging delightful destinations’, which speaks of the tourism destinations emerging stronger and more attractive when the sector picks up momentum. (PTI)