Shillong: Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu, through the virtual media on Monday laid the foundation for the Rs. 1,606 crore Shillong-Dawki road project that links Meghalaya with Bangladesh.
Terming the project a “prestigious and important initiative of the Government of India” being executed with assistance from Japan International Cooperation Agency, Naidu said the road will provide better connectivity in the State and provide a key link within the North-East Region as well as with “our friendly neighbour, Bangladesh”.
“This road will also give a fillip to the tourism industry in the state and help in the overall development of Meghalaya,” said Naidu, who arrived in Shillong this morning by road from Guwahati, even as he commented that Meghalaya was a “beautiful state with enormous tourism potential”.
“Thanks to the weather it has not allowed the helicopter to come in time. I had to travel by road and I could see the beauty of this state because I came all the way by road. I enjoyed the beauty of the state,” the Vice President said, praising the man-made Umiam lake on the Gauhati-Shillong Road.
Naidu had a stopover by the lakeside and enjoyed the beauty of nature.
While calling for more concerted efforts from the Central and State governments to promote tourism and improve infrastructure for tourists, the Vice President, however, 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 said 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.
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.
Highlighting the reputed products of the state such as Lakadong turmeric and ginger powder, Naidu emphasized that there is a great opportunity to market and showcase “our indigenous horticultural varieties to the world” and called upon the youth to take up careers as agro-entrepreneurs and improve upon productivity, packaging, and handhold small farmers to ensure that their products get the right price in the marketplace.
Earlier, in a recorded message, Union minister of transport and highways, Nitin Gadkari informed about a series of projects for East Khasi Hills district, Jaintia Hills and Garo Hills.
Governor Satya Pal Malik said the Shillong-Dawki road will pass through a number of towns and will open international trade and bring in overall growth of people of Meghalaya.
Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said that the improvement-cum-widening of 2-lane with paved shoulder and 4-lane of the 64.21-km Shillong and Dawki road, including construction of the Dawki bridge will be a game changer for the entire North East.
The Chief Minister said the project will connect Bangladesh to boost economic activity. “In less than 10 hours, one can reach Chittagong port in Bangladesh from Guwahati. It will create livelihood in terms of tourism besides trade,” he pointed out, even as he said that during the pre- Independence era, the North East had higher per capita income than the rest of the country because of its flourishing trade with the neighbouring region, which is presently Bangladesh.