Union Home Minister Amit Shah today said protecting the food habits and language of the Northeast is among the centre's top priorities.
The announcement comes at a time when Assam's proposed cattle protection law threatens the availability of beef in other Northeastern states. The Himanta Biswa Sarma-led BJP government recently tabled The Assam Cattle Preservation Bill in the Assembly. As per the legislation, transport of cattle will not be allowed through Assam without a valid permit. Once implemented, the law may hit supplies to the Northeastern states where beef is consumed.
While Nagaland and Mizoram are yet to comment on the matter, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma has said he would raise the issue with centre if Assam's new law affects transport of cattle to the state.
In his public address at Shillong today, Mr Shah said the Narendra Modi government has three top priorities for the Northeast. "Firstly, we want to protect and promote the culture, language, culture, food and food habits of the region. Secondly, to solve all the pending disputes of Northeast and make it peaceful. And, to take the Northeast towards growth, to the pre-Independence era when the GDP of Northeast was above the national GDP," he said.
The Home Minister today inaugurated a slew of projects for the region, including an inter-state bus terminus in Shillong. He said the centre aims to develop northeast as India's growth destination. "Today we inaugurated the interstate bus terminal at Mawiong, East Khasi Hills. It will improve road connectivity in the Northeast and make the region an economic hub," Mr Shah said.
"By 2023-24 all the state capitals of the eight states of the region would be linked by railway and airways though some of the state capitals are already connected with the airways and railways," he added.
Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma and Union Minister G Kishan Reddy were also present at the inauguration event.
The two-day visit is Mr Shah's first trip to the Northeast since the Assam elections in which the BJP returned to power.
He said that connectivity is necessary for the development of the Northeast. "In 2014, when BJP came in power, we ensured that providing good connectivity in the northeast region should be on priority. Apart from rail and air connectivity, we have ensured that roadways should also be well connected. Roadways not only help in transportation but also help in economic progress."
Mr Shah also addressed a conference of Chief Ministers, Chief Secretaries and police chiefs of the Northeastern states. "Under the leadership of PM @narendramodi Ji, we are resolved to make our North-Eastern region the most developed and secure part of the country," he tweeted.
Addressed the conference of the Chief Ministers, Chief Secretaries and DGPs of the North-Eastern States.— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) July 24, 2021
Under the leadership of PM @narendramodi Ji, we are resolved to make our North-Eastern region the most developed and secure part of the country. pic.twitter.com/f0M3x3qmgR
The Home Minister also inaugurated a cryogenic oxygen plant, an afforestation project and a water supply scheme in Meghalaya, and visited the headquarters of Assam Rifles in Shillong. Mr Shah also chaired a meeting to review the operation of the North Eastern Space Application Centre at Umiam in Meghalaya.