NE diverse, action plan needed to address challenges: LS speaker

ITANAGAR, 12 May: Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Thursday emphasised the need to prepare an action plan for the diverse northeastern states to address their challenges and achieve sustainable development.

“The multiplicity of topographical features and different tribal communities are significant challenges, which, however, is somewhat offset by the multifarious strengths of the Northeast,” he said.

Highlighting its strengths, the speaker said that the diligence, hardworking ethos, and talent of the people of the region can be harnessed to overcome the challenges.

The Lok Sabha speaker was addressing the inaugural ceremony of the two-day conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, India Region, Zone-3, at the state assembly here.

He said that geographically and ethnically, the region is unique but with significant commonalities, and therefore an action plan for all-round development of the Northeast should be prepared, keeping in mind the commonalities and differences.

“Let us move forward and also preserve our culture at the same time. We cannot afford to compromise with development, nor with the rich culture of the region,” said the speaker.

Noting that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken several steps for the development of the region, including introducing the Act East Policy, Birla said, “There are still many gaps in the field of infrastructure, education, health, security and connectivity due to various reasons that need to be addressed.”

The PM has instructed all the ministries to spend 10 percent of their budget for the Northeast, he said.

“We have to consider how to formulate developmental schemes for the region with public participation and cooperation, while protecting its ethnic heritage, environment, and natural resources, so that employment is generated and prosperity can be ensured,” he said.

Birla also said there is a need to increase the production of organic crops in the region, and develop an appropriate marketing system to export the products.

On insurgency in the Northeast, the speaker said there is a need to nurture democratic ethos and engage people in the democratic process.

“The Northeast has been affected by extremism and terrorism for a long time. The more we nurture democratic ethos, involve people in the democratic process, make action plans for development as per their aspirations, the more we will be able to move away from insurgency,” he said.

Birla said that the biggest challenge for the country is to create a socially, politically, economically and legally conducive environment that can enable every section of the society to participate in the governance process.

“Be it Parliament, vidhan sabha or panchayat, our focus should be on increasing the participation of people in the decision-making process, and making these institutions more sensitive to the problems of people, so as to strengthen their trust in the democratic institutions,” he said.

The two-day conference is being attended by speakers and deputy speakers of all the eight states of the region, besides ministers and officials. (PTI)