I, on behalf of the people of Assam, would like to congratulate India’s new President Shrimati Droupadi Murmu who was sworn in as the 15th President of the country last week. She is an epitome of simplicity and grace. Her visit to a tea garden in Assam has given us enough reasons to understand that she will be a people’s President. It was my honour and that of my Cabinet colleagues to have interacted with her during her visit to our State prior to the presidential polls. I am sure that she will take the dignity and honour of the country to a new high.
Now that the dust has settled down (literally speaking), we will soon be able to assess the damage that the second round of floods have caused in Assam. Whereas houses can be built along with livelihood but not hearth and home once lives are lost. My Government is focused on ‘restoring’ normalcy at the earliest. I have laid down a detailed action plan to guardian ministers and officials wherein we want to restore everything that was damaged or lost in floods, including livelihood. Statistics present a far grimmer picture than is visible to the local eye. Farmers, traders, students, women & children, and all categories of people have suffered, and suffered extensively. I want to reassure you that the Government of Assam has plunged headlong into the exercise to embalm pain and provide a healing touch. I continue to be grateful for all those who are still coming forward to contribute in their own ways to assist in relief measures. It is this spirit of the people that keeps a government going.
Last month, we were able to fulfil our promise of providing compensation to the employees or family members of Nagaon Paper Mill and Cachar Paper Mill under Hindustan Paper Corporation Limited (HPCL). This, for me, was a momentous occasion when we allowed compassion to precede compensation. I am hopeful that the package will allow them to rehabilitate themselves after the closure of the mills. Some of them, would, of course, be part of the Government in some capacity or the others while others will try and rebuild their lives. I feel saddened at the loss of over a hundred lives since the closure of the mill. We are keen to facilitate the setting up of a paper mill in Cachar by supporting private players, while we intend to expand our administrative capital to Jagiroad for various reasons, which I shall expand on later. Besides, our plan is to have an eight-lane highway connecting Guwahati and Jagiroad whose benefits shall be for all to see. Government spending in Northeast India is very important to keep the wheel of the economy moving. Until such time major industrial projects and service industries are established here, the Government must go all out to invest in infrastructure. It will have a direct bearing on job creation and productivity. Our idea to expand our administrative reach to Jagiroad is partly geared towards that objective. At the same time, we will continue to facilitate investment opportunities in the State.
The recent visit of the Senior Minister of Singapore Tharman Shanmugaratnam to Guwahati was yet another attempt by us to attract foreign and domestic companies to our State. I am hopeful that the Singapore delegation has gone back with a planned perspective of facilitating investment in Assam which will create an ecosystem of entrepreneurship and meaningful employment for our youth. Ever since we were vested with the responsibility of governing the State by the people, my Government has been relentlessly focusing on creating employment opportunities for our youths. We know that there are limitations in generating endless employment opportunities in the Government sector but the private sector is not bound by such a constraint provided the Government of the day creates an enabling atmosphere for them. I can assure them that we are committed to do that.
I am also happy at the positive outcome of the border talks with our neighbour Arunachal Pradesh. The Namsai Declaration for all practical purposes is a declaration of our will and sincerity to solve the festering wound of history, geography, and politics. We all know that we cannot choose our borders but we can certainly exercise our wisdom in maintaining cordiality with our neighbours. This same principle is at work with our Government when dealing with Meghalaya, Nagaland and Mizoram. Respecting the will of the people, and historical realities are the two prime considerations for us whenever we negotiate disputes with our neighbours. I assure the people of Assam that we will not compromise on their interest and that of the State.