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NE observes 74th Independence Day in a low key affair

NE observes 74th Independence Day in a low key affair
Left-Right: Manipur CM Biren Singh at Manipur Rifles Parade Ground, Assam CM Sonowal saluting a march past contingent, Tripura CM Biplab Deb inspecting the parade, Meghalaya CM saluting a march past contingent.
Correspondent NORTHEAST, AUG 15 (IANS/Correspondent): | Publish Date: 8/15/2020 11:48:59 AM IST

With the rest of the country, the eight NE states on Saturday observed the 74th Independence Day while observing COVID SOPs and limiting attendance of the public and special invitees. 

Assam: Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Saturday said that his government will not make any compromise in the complete implementation of the Assam accord.

Unfurling the national flag at the Judges Field in Guwahati on the occasion of the 74th Independence Day, he said that the state government is committed to implementing the provisions of the 1985 Assam accord and would also protect the interests of the people of Assam.

“To check infiltration from across the border, the central government has taken various steps including composite fencing of the India-Bangladesh border along Assam. Riverine borders with Bangladesh were also sealed with the implementation of the “Smart Fence” scheme by adopting modern technology.”

“The high-level committee on Clause 6 of the Assam accord has submitted its report and despite problems faced due to Covid-19 and other disasters like floods, the state government and the Centre have taken steps to make sure of its implementation,” he said.

Sonowal said that his government has formulated a new land policy and taken steps to provide land deeds to nearly one lakh landless people.

To ensure its preservation and to popularise the Assamese language, a law has been enacted to include Assamese in all school curriculums in the state except in the Bodo Territorial Area and Barak Valley, both dominated by non-Assamese people.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Assam farmers have exported various crops including fruits worth Rs 852 crore to various states in the country and abroad.

The Chief Minister announced a slew of measures and schemes especially targeting the agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry and food processing sectors. He announced the setting up of rice clusters in Dhemaji and Baksa districts, opening of rice procurement centres in all districts, a centre of excellence for organic agriculture at Biswanath district and cold storage chains in all districts.

Meghalaya: Independence Day was celebrated across Meghalaya on Saturday with Chief Minister Conrad Sangma hoisting the Tricolour at Polo Ground here and also launched a ‘Restart Meghalaya Mission’ to revive the State economy which has been hit hard due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“This mission comprises a series of programs to support our farmers, and entrepreneurs and to build growth promoting basic infrastructure and services. We are calling this mission ‘Restart’ because we want to revive and give a push to the different development activities that were brought to a standstill by COVID,” Sangma said.          

He said the Mission was based on the recommendations of the Chief Minister’s Task Force on the Economy on short, medium and long term measures for reviving the State economy, which has been hit hard due to the pandemic.          

The Chief Minister committed an amount of Rs 14,515 crore to be spent over the next three years for the mission, of which Rs 7,839 crore has been earmarked for this year.

Sangma spelt out the six programmes under Restart Meghalaya Mission’ which include agriculture and its allied sectors, promotion of well-being and livelihoods in rural area, providing a one-time grant support of upto Rs. 10,000 for any new small business loans of upto Rs. 50,000 for small businesses and entrepreneurs under Chief Minister’s Support programme.         

The Chief Minister also committed a total investment of Rs. 8,753 crore over the next three years in terms of infrastructures and 13 major roads covering a length of about 350 Km to be constructed at an estimated cost of Rs. 850 crores.          

Stating that the fifth priority area focuses on tourism, the Chief Minister informed that close to 50,000 people are dependent on Tourism for sustenance and livelihood in Meghalaya.

“We can focus on destinations away from urban areas with plenty of open spaces and with minimal COVID- related risks. Meghalaya is ideally positioned as a pristine, low-COVID destination and many high-spending tourists from within the country will be very keen to travel here. Our goal, whenever we reopen, is to transition to a model of High Value -Low Volume - Sustainable tourism. To become a high-value destination, we need to increase the number of high-value rooms from the current number of 200 to at least 500 in the next two years,” he emphasized.         

As private investment might be difficult to come through, the government will make the investments of about Rs 200 crore in creating high value accommodation and tourism infrastructure. We have already finalized the planning process for iconic tourism projects like the ropeway to Shillong Peak and a luxury boutique resort in the Nokrek Area in Garo Hills among others,” he informed.

“The sixth and perhaps the most significant priority area is Human Development. We are taking steps to ensure that children continue to  learn, despite closure of schools. To facilitate remote learning, we are planning to distribute tablets to 25,000 Class XI students. On the infrastructure front, the process of construction of 13 Ekalavya Model Residential Schools will soon begin; another 25 such schools have recently been sanctioned. I am taking all steps to ensure the completion of all the 40 Ekalavya Model Residential Schools by the end of2022,” he said.  

“Alongside the fight against COVID-19, we have continued our efforts to improve child and maternal health. The MOTHER programme piloted last year in South West Garo Hills has been expanded to the entire State this year. Over 25,360 infants have received full immunization during this COVID pandemic in comparison to 21,130 infants during the same period last year. We are now amongst the top three States in the country in immunization. The government is fully committed to improving the institutional delivery rate to 80% by the next year and reducing maternal mortality by half,” he said.         

“All the investments that I outlined in the ‘Restart Meghalaya Mission’ will propel us towards progress and well being,” Sangma said. 

(Coresspondent)

Tripura: Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb on Saturday said with the improvement in rail, road, air and waterway connectivity, Tripura would be the logistics hub of the north-eastern states.

Three projects are now underway to link Tripura with Bangladesh through rail, road and waterways, he added. After the completion of these projects, Tripura and the neighbouring north-eastern states would be connected with other parts of India and the world via Bangladesh.

Hoisting the national flag at the famous Assam Rifles ground in Agartala on the occasion of Independence Day, the Chief Minister said Tripura’s capital Agartala topped the Smart City rankings among 10 cities of the eight north-eastern states.

Deb said Tripura is the only state in the country that had recently conducted a statewide survey under which over 12,000 health workers visited all the nine lakh households to detect Covid-19 patients.

The Chief Minister said to provide employment to thousands of people and to earn revenue, the Tripura government has undertaken ambitious projects and schemes.

Deb said due to the rigorous efforts of the state government, crime has declined by 32 per cent and crimes against women dropped by 40 per cent.

Deb said 34,000 Reang tribal refugees, who fled from neighbouring Mizoram, would be rehabilitated in Tripura and for that the Central government has announced a Rs 600-crore package.

Deb announced social pension for more than 30,000 people in addition to the 3.93 lakh people currently receiving the pension under various Central and state government schemes. He claimed that the per capita income and GDP have increased substantially.

Arunachal Pradesh: Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Saturday exhorted the people to adapt to the ‘new normal’ to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the northeastern state.

Khandu, while unfurling the Tri-colour at the Indira Gandhi Park here on the occasion of the 74th Independence Day. He said the imposition of the nationwide lockdown on March 24 gave the state government time to prepare for combating the disease.

“We notified 32 district COVID-19 health centres with 326 beds, 66 COVID-19 care centres with 2,497 beds, 383 quarantine facilities with 13,411 beds and dedicated COVID-19 hospitals Tomo Riba Institute of Health and Medical Sciences (TRIHMS) at Naharlagun and North Eastern Institute of FolkMedicine (NEIFM) at Pasighat in East Siang district,” he said.

Khandu said the state government created ICUs in the district hospitals, besides deploying specialised doctors and ventilators in those establishments. It also took a major decision of converting the MLA apartments here into a COVID-19 hospital.

Aggressive testing of samples, tracing of contacts and treating of COVID-19 patients was an effective strategy to contain the spread of the disease in the state, the chief minister said.

One RT-PCR laboratory has been established in Naharlagun and another is being set up in Pasighat. Also, TrueNat and rapid antigen test kits have been dispatched to all the districts, he said.

“As a result of this, Arunachal Pradesh has the lowest COVID-19 positivity rate in the Northeast. It ranks among the top six states in the country in terms of tests per million population,” Khandu said.

He said the state government will upgrade 17 district hospitals for Rs 350 crore and tenders will be floated soon.

Sikkim: Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang on Saturday said his government will set up an education reform commission to draw a comprehensive policy in line with the NEP.

After unfurling the tricolour at Manan Bhawan here on the occasion of the 74th Independence Day, he hailed the National Education Policy (NEP), approved by the Centre, saying that it provides an overarching vision and comprehensive framework for both school and higher education sectors.

 “The state government will set up a Sikkim Education Reform Commission to draw a comprehensive policy and strategy in line with the National Education Policy, 2020,” he said.

The chief minister also said the government has planned to set up one model school in each district with innovative teaching and learning methodologies.

Tamang said the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) in Sikkim will be depoliticised and its representatives will be free from any party affiliation.

Taking a cue from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s slogan for self-reliant India, Tamang said the state government will strive for making Sikkim an ‘atmanirbhar’ state and encourage people to consume locally produced items.

The state government has decided to provide incentives to farmers for milk production and a minimum support price (MSP) for ginger, orange, cardamom, turmeric and buckwheat cultivation, Tamang said.

On the long-pending issue of Limboo and Tamang communities’ reservation in the Assembly and demand for granting ST status to eleven tribes of Sikkim, he said the state government is in touch with the Centre.

 On the occasion of Independence Day, Governor Ganga Prasad appealed to the people to remain united for the development and prosperity of Sikkim and the country.

Mizoram: Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga said on Saturday that a plan to increase crop production has been taken up by his government.

“The government has stepped up the entrepreneurship development programme. The government and people have to work collectively to take the state forward and to reach newer heights,” the Chief Minister said after hoisting the national flag at the Assam Rifles ground of the city as part of the 74th Independence Day celebrations.

Zoramthanga paid tributes to the freedom fighters and called upon the new generation to show reverence for the supreme sacrifice of the martyrs.

Highlighting the progress made in several sectors, he said that plans were also being implemented to augment the production of crops, fruits, milk, vegetables and other essentials.

The Chief Minister handed over state and central awards for distinguished service to selected personnel from the police and the teaching community. He also gave “Jeevan Raksha Padak” to three persons.

MANIPUR: “Do not stigmatize healthcare workers and other frontline warriors,” Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh said in his address on the occasion of the country’s 74th Independence Day in Imphal on Saturday amid boycott by rebel groups. 

Rebel groups including Coordination Committee (CorCom) of six major rebel groups while boycotting the day, called for total shutdown across the state. The total shutdown with COVID-19 induced lockdown hit normal life severely in the state.

In spite of relaxation for shops selling essential items particularly in valley districts, remained shut for the day, reports said.

The occasion was celebrated even at the district and sub-division level under tightened security measures.

The state level celebration was held in Imphal’s 1st Battalion Manipur Rifles Parade Ground where chief minister N Biren Singh hoisted the national flag amid playing of national anthem.

He said his government has acknowledged the selfless sacrifice by doctors, nurses and other medical staff in the fight against COVID-19. 

He lauded the team of doctors of JNIMS led by Dr Tharoijam Utthan for rendering their service selflessly towards treating tCOVID-19 patients at JNIMS hospital. 

On the recent news of denial of admission for patients in hospitals, Singh appealed to hospitals and doctors not to refuse treatment to any patient. 

Warning hospitals and doctors against denial of treatment to patients, he said the government has already issued an order in this regard. He said the government will decide on extension of the lockdown for another 15 days in consultation with his cabinet ministers and members of the Consultative Committee on COVID-19.  

On the state government’s fight againt drugs, he informed that after the state government declared ‘War against Drugs’ and set up of Fast Track Court, around 110 persons have been convicted so far and various drug factories have been busted by the police in various parts of the state. 

Chief minister also  handed over the cheque of Rs 5 lakh to the wife of late Riflemen Ratan Salam Riflemen Ratan Salam of 4th Assam Rifles in recognition of his valour under the newly instituted scheme called Major Laishram Jyotin Singh Ex-gratia scheme.

The chief minister further handed over the Chief Minister’s Trophy for Community Service Awards to three police personnel and the Chief Minister’s Trophy for Anti-Drug Campaign three other police personnel. The Paona Brajabashi Award for Best NCC Boy Cadet and Rani Gaidinliu Award for Best NCC Girl Cadet were also distributed on the occasion.

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