New Delhi [India], Jan. 31 : Describing India's north-eastern states as 'Ashtalakshmi' that can take the country to new heights, President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday said the government is focusing on reducing isolation by opening up road and rail routes to boost the economic development of the region.
Addressing the joint sitting of Parliament, President Mukherjee said "My government sees the north-eastern states as Ashtalakshmi that can take India to new heights.
The North-East is the gateway to South-East Asia. We are opening up road and rail routes to our neighbouring countries to boost the economic development of the region." Dubbing that development of all the regions is vital to India's progress, President Mukherjee said under its proactive 'Act East' policy, his government is focussing on reducing the isolation of the eastern region and the North-East by improving connectivity through road, rail, air, telecom, power and waterways.
He further said the government is taking special initiatives to develop the North East region, including by developing railway projects worth Rs 10,000 crore "Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya have been put on the rail map, Agartala in Tripura has been connected with broad-guage line," he added.
Paying special attention to the region's natural landscape, President Mukherjee said: "The beauty and diversity of the North-East makes it a natural hub for tourism.
The Ministry of Tourism has identified a thematic circuit for the North-East." Highlighting various steps taken by the government to uplift the region, he said the North-East BPO promotion scheme in the Digital India programme for creation of employment opportunities has already been approved.
The president said the Brahmaputra Cracker and Polymer Limited and Numaligarh Refinery Limited wax unit are big projects that will create huge employment opportunities in the North-East.
President Mukherjee also said the government has provided special financial assistance to mitigate the damage caused by the unprecedented floods in the hilly and other areas of the country.
On the security situation in north-eastern states, he said it has "also shown significant improvement" while overall in India, "there has been considerable success in containing Left wing extremism over the last three years, with the surrender of over 2,600 extremists".