Amit Shah assures NE States against any changes in Article 371

Guwahati, September 9, 2019

Union Home Minister Amit Shah has asserted that the Centre respects Article 371 which grants special provisions to the North East and will not make any changes in it.
Addressing the opening session of the 68th Plenary of the North Eastern Council here yesterday, Shah said that, after abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, there was some misinformation that there will be also changes to Article 371.
He explained the difference between Article 370 which was temporary in nature and Article 371 which is about special provisions in the North East. “I have clarified in Parliament that this is not going to happen and I am saying it again today in Assam in presence of the eight Chief Ministers,” Shah said.
He began his address by paying tribute to late singer and music composerBhupen Hazarika on his birth anniversary. 
Shah said the region is a mini-India, with the mighty Himalaya range on the one hand and beautiful landscapes like Barak, Brahmaputra and the Imphal Valley on the other.
The Northeast comprises around 9% of the total area of the country with a population of around 5 crore which comprises 3.78% of the total population. The region also bears strategic importance for the fact that it has an international border for around 5300 km.
Referring to the diverse culture of the Northeast region, Shah said there were around 270 ethnic groups and around 150 dialects in the region. All development activities and initiatives should be directed towards preserving and enriching the rich heritage of this region.
The identity of India was never geopolitical rather it was geo-cultural and, if this principle is accepted by all India, Northeast will be never be treated separately. The cultural and linguistic identity of the Northeast Region should be preserved and maintained, he said.
He announced that the North East Council will earmark 30% of its funds for focused funding of priority areas and deprived sections of society.
Every state will identify those villages or regions which are backward in various indicators and will work to bring those regions at par with the rest of the country. The growth story will never be complete until the entire state progresses at par with the other parts, he added.
The Minister said that the North Eastern Council has been the nodal agency since 1971 for planning and implementation towards the economic and social development of the North Eastern Region. In 2022, NEC will be completing 50 years while India will be completing 75 years of its independence.
It is the time NEC should work on preparing the road map to ascertain the progress that Northeast will achieve by 2022, he said.
"Today we should set the targets to ascertain the law and order situation in Northeast by 2022 and to set the targets for enriching the culture, tradition and language of the Northeast," he said.
He said the Northeast, as a region prior to the Independence, was the greatest contributor of GDP for the Nation. "Today we all should manifest our efforts and set targets to bring back those days.
"The NEC should focus on afforestation, development of organic farming, measures to revive lost languages and measures to resolve inter-state disputes between the states," he added.
Speaking on the Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement, Shah said the landmark decision will enable the re-establishment of the links between Kolkata and Dhaka Ports.
Prior to independence, these ports served as the gateway for trade and commerce of the Northeast region. With the opening of the trade through this route, considering the huge natural resources, this region can once again become the leading contributor of GDP for the country.
Speaking on the recent publication of NRC in Assam, Shah expressed his satisfaction over the timely completion of the process and also added that the government will not allow a single illegal immigrant to stay back in the country.
Union Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Jitendra Singh said the North East Council has been given its highest budgetary allotment of Rs 1476 crore for the year 2019-20.
The NEC Plenary meeting was attended by Governors, Chief Ministers, MPs of the Northeast and senior officers of the eight North-Eastern States and the Union Ministry of DoNER.

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