While observing that the hilly terrain and the rainy months in the North East, particularly Meghalaya, often hinder the road construction activities, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Monday has called for innovation in the design and construction of roads for a hilly topography.
“Technical institutions around the country must take this as an opportunity and bring out better road designs while cutting down on the implementation period,” Naidu suggested.
Referring to the complexities of road connectivity in the North-Eastern region, Naidu also highlighted the importance of improving connectivity through air travel. Noting a marked improvement in air connectivity for the region under the Regional Connectivity Scheme, he called for more direct flights from and to the North East with the rest of the country.
Addressing the gathering at the foundation laying ceremony of the improvement/widening project of the Shillong-Dawki section of the National Highway 40 in Shillong, the Vice President has further stressed the importance of better road connectivity in the North-Eastern region to fully tap its tourism potential, ease the transport of goods, improve the delivery of services and contribute to the overall development of the region.
In this regard, Naidu called for fast-tracking all the developmental activities in the North-Eastern States, utilising the funds provided by the Centre for various projects with transparency and accountability. “If we can expedite all projects here, without delay or diversion, North-Eastern States have the potential to become the growth engines of the country,” Naidu said.
He stressed that “development of the country is incomplete without the development of the North East.”
The Vice President also underlined the significance of the improvement or widening of NH-40 to the tourism industry in the State. Describing Meghalaya as a beautiful State with enormous tourism potential, he called for more concerted efforts from the Central and State governments to promote tourism and improve infrastructure for the tourists.
At the same time, he cautioned that while promoting tourism, care must be taken to ensure that the pristine ecological system is not disturbed in any manner.
Referring to the importance of agro-entrepreneurship for States like Meghalaya, the Vice President noted that there was a large area under horticulture in the State and added that there are immense opportunities for budding entrepreneurs to add value to the supply chain. In this regard, he appreciated the efforts of the Meghalaya government in starting the PRIME Hub initiative to encourage entrepreneurship among the youth and to equip them with skill-based learning.
Giving the instance of reputed products such as Lakadong turmeric and ginger powder from the State, Naidu emphasized that there is a great opportunity to market and showcase our indigenous horticultural varieties to the world. He called upon the youth to innovate as agro-entrepreneurs and improve upon productivity, packaging, and handhold small farmers to ensure that their products get the right price in the marketplace.
The Vice President congratulated Rebecca Vanessa Suchiang, who was present during the event, for becoming the first indigenous woman Chief Secretary of Meghalaya. He added that her achievement will be an inspiration for the youth of Meghalaya to take up government service as a career choice.
Meghalaya Governor Satyapal Mallik, Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma, Deputy Chief Minister P. Tynsong and other dignitaries were present on the occasion. The Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways, Nitin Gadkari also participated through a recorded video message.