Insurgencies in northeast dominated 2008, economic climate improving

Monday, 29 December 2008, 11:04 Hrs
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Agartala: Though violent separatist insurgencies continued to rock most northeastern states in 2008, the region also saw mobilisation of investments, the launch of the ambitious Vision 2020 and new governments in four states.

After a three-year deliberation, the Vision 2020 document was released in July by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi.

The three-volume document promises to usher in a new era of peace and prosperity in the region through a multi-pronged strategy that includes spurring private investment and industrial development, empowerment of the people by maximising self governance, rural development, increasing agricultural productivity and augmenting infrastructure in the region.

Pitching strongly for making the northeast region an economic hub, Minister for Development of the Northeastern Region Mani Shankar Aiyar said the region requires billions of dollars in investments and stressed that the development of the region will push India's growth rate to double-digit figure.

With a high degree of investment interest in the industry-starved region by the corporate world, the fourth northeast business summit saw 247 expressions of interest (EOI) from 64 companies, including some foreign business houses.

Agro and food processing sector received 65 EOIs. This was followed by tourism with 50 EOIs and infrastructure sector with 70. This was besides interests shown in the IT and manufacturing sectors.

Diplomats, investors and delegates from 12 countries took part in the two-day Northeast Business Summit, held in September.

The four northeastern states -- Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura and Mizoram -- set up new governments with Meghalaya and Mizoram witnessing change of regimes.

In Meghalaya, after a fractured mandate, Congress leader D.D. Lapang was sworn in as chief minister March 10. But he could not prove his majority in the assembly and the Congress-led government resigned after nine days, paving the way for the Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA) of Donkupar Roy to form the government March 19.

In Nagaland, a 12-member ministry headed by Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio assumed office in March as the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) came to power for the second consecutive term after defeating the Congress.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left Front stormed back to power in Tripura for the sixth time - including four times in a row. CPI-M politburo member Manik Sarkar was again sworn in as chief minister.

After successive setbacks in the three northeastern states, the Congress won the November polls in Mizoram after a gap of 10 years.

Voting out the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF), the Congress won 32 seats in the 40-member house. Lalthanhawla, who shaped the Congress base in the state, became chief minister for the fourth time on Dec 11.

"The security situation in Assam, Manipur and Nagaland - which together account for over 90 percent of incidents of militant violence in the region so far this year -- has become a cause of concern...," a report of the union home ministry said.

Manipur and Tripura witnessed this year's worst terrorist violence in the two states when a series of bomb explosions took place on Oct 1 and Oct 21 respectively.

In Tripura, over 100 people were injured with the capital Agartala rocked by a wave of bombings.

Eighteen people were killed and 44 more wounded in a powerful bomb blast in Manipur capital Imphal.

Amid rising tension arising out of rampant factional hostility among rival underground groups, specially two factions of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN), overwhelming peace and reconciliation campaigns by social groups and churches dominated Nagaland's socio-political scenario during 2008.

Notwithstanding hope for peace nurtured by the people, the war of attrition between the NSCN factions refused to die down.

The outgoing year was very low key in Arunachal Pradesh except for the agitation launched by government employees over implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission recommendation, resurfacing of the boundary problem with Assam besides China's claim over Arunachal territory.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his maiden visit to Arunachal Pradesh in January announced a mega 200 billion (approx $4 billion) development package. The prime minister during his visit announced the launching of several schemes, including rail, road and air connectivity, development of infrastructure, education and healthcare facilities besides the 55 billion, 1.840 km Trans-Arunachal Highway project connecting Tawang to Mahadevpur.
Source: IANS
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