The North East region has potential to become the economic and tourism hub of the country, said Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Saturday while participating in the inaugural function of the two-day 8th North East Festival here. In his key note address, he highlighted the tourism potential, cultural vividness and diversity of the NE region, and emphasised on the need that all the states of the area work together to harness the true development potential of the region.
He appreciated efforts of the organisers of the festival to showcase the regions rich cultural heritage and project it as a tourism hotspot to the outside world. The ‘Act East Policy’ which entails development of the entire North Eastern region at a pace never seen before in the last 70 years of Indias nationhood has opened newer avenues for the region to facilitate economic and cultural exchanges with the SE Asian and ASEAN countries, Sonowal said.
The chief minister stressed on the importance of capturing the market of SE Asia with knowledge, skill and hardwork so that NE can become Indias gateway to SE Asia. Referring to the exposure tour provided to 14 progressive farmers to Vietnam by the state government, Sonowal cited the Vietnamese model where they have been able to export agricultural goods worth 30 million US Dollar by doing value addition and he advocated a similar model for the NE states.
Urging the festival organisers to highlight the achievements and success stories of every NE state through the festival, Sonowal suggested holding of interaction programmes with the youths. Participating virtually in the programme, Union MoS of DONER Dr Jitendra Singh elaborated on the importance of events like North East Festival in furthering the cause of NE tourism, commerce and industry.
The minister also dwelt on the steps taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to enhance road, air and water communication infrastructure in the region. Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb in his speech also spoke about how Railways and Airways have been augmented in his state by the present central government.
Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh, Foreign Secretary Harshbardhan Shringla, Assam Industries and Commerce Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary, Agriculture Minister Atul Bora, organiser of the event Shaymkanu Mahanta, among others, spoke on the occasion..