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PM’s address at laying of foundation stone of Manipur Water Supply Project

Governor of Manipur Smt. Najma Heptulla ji; the popular Chief Minister of Manipur N Biren Singh ji; my cabinet colleagues Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat ji, Shri Jitendra Singh ji, Shri Ratanlal Kataria ji; all the MPs and MLAs from Manipur and my dear brothers and sisters of Manipur !!

Today’s event is an example of the fact that even during this corona crisis, the country has not stopped; the country is not tired. Until the vaccine is launched, we not only have to fight vigorously against Corona and emerge victorious, but at the same time have to take forward the development works with full force. This time, the eastern and north eastern India is dealing with dual challenges in a way. This year again in the North East, heavy rains are causing a lot of havoc. Many people have died and many have been forced to leave their homes. I convey my condolences to all the affected families. I assure you all that in this tough moment, the whole nation stands with them. The Government of India is making constant efforts to do all kinds of necessary work shoulder to shoulder with all the State governments.

Friends,

The state government is working day and night to control the pace and the expanse of the spread of Coronavirus in Manipur. The state government has taken every necessary step to make necessary arrangements for the people of Manipur during the lockdown as well as to bring the stranded people back. About 25 lakh poor brothers and sisters of Manipur – that is about 5-6 lakh poor families received free food grains under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana. Similarly, more than 1.5 lakh sisters have been given the facility of free gas cylinders under the Ujjwala scheme. I am sure that these Central Government schemes will continue to help the poor during this period of crisis in a similar way.

Friends,

Today is a big day for lakhs of friends from Manipur including Imphal, especially for our sisters. The sisters from Manipur are going to receive a huge gift just when the festival of Rakhi is around the corner. Manipur water supply project, to be completed at a cost of about Rs 3000 crore, is going to reduce the problems related to water scarcity of the people here. The water from this project will serve 25 cities and towns, including Greater Imphal, as well as more than 1700 villages and will serve as a lifeline for the people. And most importantly, this project is designed keeping in mind the needs of not only today but also of the next 20-22 years.

With this project, not only will lakhs of people have access to clean drinking water, but thousands of people will also get employment. And you know very well that drinking pure water helps in boosting immunity and creating resistance to diseases. Therefore, its use is not limited to piped water supply only. Certainly, this project will give a lot of momentum to our comprehensive goal of providing access of piped water to every household. I congratulate the people of Manipur and especially my mothers and sisters from Manipur for this water project.

Friends,

Last year when the Jal Jeevan Mission was getting launched in the country, I had said that we would have to work many times faster than the previous governments. When piped water is to be delivered to more than 15 crore houses, we cannot think of stopping even for a moment. This was the reason that even at the time of lockdown, the work of laying pipelines and creating awareness in the villages continued with the help of the Panchayats.

Today the situation is such that about one lakh water connections are being provided daily in the country. That is, every day we are reducing the burden of one lakh mothers and sisters from the stress related to water issues. The lives of mothers and sisters from these one lakh families are becoming easier. This has been possible so soon because the Jal Jeevan Mission is growing into a mass movement. Under this, the people of the villages, especially the sisters and the people’s representatives from the villages are deciding together where the pipes will be laid, where the water will be sourced from, where the tank will be built, and how much budget will be required.

Friends,

With such a level of decentralization in the system of government and empowerment at the grassroots level, you can imagine the power of water.

Friends,

Ease of Living is the prerequisite for a better life. Money might come and go; but ease of living is the right of everyone, especially every poor brother, mother, sister, Dalit, backward and tribal has this right.

Therefore, in the last 6 years, a massive movement of Ease of Living too has begun in India. India is trying to provide all the necessary facilities to its citizens. In the last 6 years, steps have been taken at every level and in every field which can encourage the poor, the common man to move forward. Today, the whole of India including Manipur has been declared to be free from open defecation. Today electricity connection has reached every village of India and almost every family is connected to electricity. Today LPG gas has reached the kitchens of the poorest of the poor. Every village is being connected by good network of roads. Good homes are being provided to every poor homeless. What remained was a huge shortage of clean water; so to fulfil it the work of supplying water on mission mode is going on.

Friends,

Better life, progress and prosperity are directly related to connectivity. The connectivity of North East is not only necessary for the ease of living of the people here, but is also very important to fulfil the goal of a secured and self-reliant India. This on one hand strengthens our social and trade relations with Myanmar, Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh, while also boosting India’s Act East Policy.

Our North East, in a way, is the gateway to our ancient cultural relationships with East Asia, and the future of Trade, Travel and Tourism. With this thinking, connectivity is being constantly emphasized in the entire North East including Manipur. Besides Roadways, Highways, Airways, Waterways and I-ways, many projects related to the modern infrastructure such as gas pipeline, network of optical fibre and power grid are underway in the North East.

Thousands of crores of rupees have been invested in the entire North East for infrastructure in the last 6 years. Efforts have been made to connect the state capitals of the North East with 4-lane roads, the district headquarters with 2-lane roads and the villages with all-weather roads. Under this, about 3000 kilometres of roads have already been constructed and work on projects of about 6000 kilometres is going on at a rapid pace.

Friends,

One can see a huge change in the field of ​​rail connectivity in the North East. On one hand, trains are reaching new railway stations, while on the other hand the rail network of the North East is being converted into broad gauge. All of you can also feel this change. The construction of the Jiribam-Imphal rail line at a cost of Rs 14000 crore is going to bring a major change in Manipur. Similarly, the work of connecting the capitals of every state of the North East with a good rail network in the coming 2 years is going on at a rapid pace.

Friends,

Apart from road and railways air connectivity of North East is also equally important. Today there are about 13 operational airports in the North East, including major and minor ones. More than Rs3000 crores are being spent to expand the existing airports in the North East including the Imphal Airport and to develop modern facilities there.

Friends,

Another major work  going on in the North East is in the field of ​​Inland Water-ways. I can see a huge revolution. Now more than 20 National Waterways are under construction here. In future, the connectivity here will not be limited to the Siliguri corridor. Now work has begun on a seamless connectivity through the network of sea and rivers. Our entrepreneurs and our farmers are getting immense benefits out of increased connectivity. This is saving time in transportation of the North East. Moreover, the villages in the North East, the farmers, and milk, vegetables and other products like minerals have got direct access to large markets in the country and abroad.

Friends,

Natural and cultural diversity of North East India is a great symbol of cultural strength. It is a great pride of India. In such a situation, tourism also gets a lot of boost when modern infrastructure is built. Tourism potential of North East including Manipur is still unexplored. Now I see that this image of Northeast has a potential of reaching every household within the country and abroad through the social media and video streaming. And videos of untouched places of North-East are surprising people. People think – is this place in our country? North East should take full advantage of this power. Several of the government projects are moving ahead with the aim of ensuring employment opportunities for the youth of this place.

Friends,

The North East has the potential to become the growth engine in the country’s development. Day by day my confidence is getting stronger because peace is now being established in the entire North East. The same place which was producing only negative news earlier is now echoing with the mantra of Peace, Progress and Prosperity.

Now the blockades in Manipur have become a part of history and the Chief Minister was just saying the same thing. I heartily congratulate the citizens of North-East, especially the citizens of Manipur that you supported and encouraged us and today the blockade has become a thing of the past. And in Assam, decades of violence has come to an end. In Tripura and Mizoram too, youth have eschewed the path of violence. Now Bru-Reang refugees are moving towards a better life.

Friends,

When these three things i.e. better infrastructure, connectivity and peace are established, the possibilities for investment by the industry increases manifold. The northeast has 2 things i.e. organic products and bamboo that have the potential to give a boost to the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan. And today I want to talk to the farmer brothers and sisters of northeast. I have been saying that the northeast can become the organic capital of the country. I want to say one more thing. The other day I met some agricultural scientists and agricultural economists. They told me an interesting thing. They said that if the farmers in the North-East can start palmolein cultivation, then the country, the North-East and the farmers there can benefit a lot. Today palmolein oil has an assured market in India. If the North-East farmer does organic farming and cultivates palmolein too, you can imagine how you can serve India in such a great way. How will we give a new momentum to our economy? I would also urge all the state governments of the region to launch a Palmolein Mission in their respective states. Educate and motivate the farmers and we can hold a meeting and plan about how to help the farmers in this endeavour. We can think about it. Now this is why today I am telling this to the brothers and sisters of Manipur.

My brothers and sisters of North-East have always been ‘vocal for local’. And they are not just vocal. One specialty of the North-East is that they are proud of the local. I remember, when I wear these kinds of scarves, the people of the region, proudly recognise it. Being so proud of your things is a big thing. And so I don’t think it is right for me to tell the people of North-East to be vocal for local; because you are already four steps ahead of that. You are very proud of the local. You want to feel proud, yes it is ours. And this is a big strength.

And most of the products from the North-East sometimes are devoid of value addition, promotion and market access. People did not even know that now under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan , clusters are being developed for value addition and marketing in local products. In these clusters, all the facilities will be given to Agro Start-ups and other industries. In such a scenario, every necessary facility will be made available to the North East to take their organic products to other parts of the country and abroad.

Friends,

The North East has the potential to replace India’s Bamboo Import with local production. There is such a huge demand for incense sticks in the country. But for this also, we import bamboo worth several crores of rupees. To change this situation, a lot of work is being done in the country and the states of the northeast will also be benefitted.

Friends,

A Bamboo Industrial Park has already been approved to promote the bamboo industry in the North East. Moreover, a factory to manufacture bio-fuels from bamboo is also being built in Numaligarh. Hundreds of crores of rupees are being invested under the National Bamboo Mission for bamboo farmers, artists associated with handicrafts and to develop other facilities. This will greatly benefit the youth of North East as well as the start-ups here.

Friends,

Only the proactive states will be able to take advantage of the benefits of this rapid change in the North East. Manipur has unlimited opportunities and I am sure Manipur will not let go of them. It is going to be of great benefit to the farmers and young entrepreneurs here. Our effort is to make employment opportunities available to the youth of Manipur locally. Many institutes are now being set up here for health, education, skill development, start ups and other training.

With the setting up of Sports University and World Class Stadiums, Manipur is becoming a major hub for the country’s sports talent. Moreover, in other parts of the country too, all the youth of North East including Manipur are being provided with better facilities such as good hostels today. We have to continue to strengthen this path of development and trust. Once again, my best wishes to all of you for this new water project.

I yearn for the blessings of our mothers and sisters, so that there is no hindrance in our dream of delivering water to every house and we can work before the deadline. May the mothers and sisters bless us! We want to work. Bless us for carrying out this work. Your blessings will give us huge strength. The festival of Rakshabandhan is round the corner, so I want to seek your blessings. You all take care of yourself. The North East has always been very serious and cautious about cleanliness. It is like a model for the country. But today as we are fighting a battle against Corona, we must keep in mind about ‘do gaz doori’ or social distancing, face masks and hand sanitization; we must not spit out or litter the areas. Today, this is the most powerful weapon to fight the corona. This will continue to help us in the fight against Corona.

Thanks a lot!!!