Modi boost to Sonowal’s ‘Aatmanirbhar Assam’

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Three major petro projects, engineering college inaugurated ** Poll date may be announced in first week of March, hints PM   

HT Bureau

DHEMAJI, Feb 22: Keeping in mind upcoming Assembly polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a whirlwind tour of Assam to woo the electors with sops besides inaugurating three major projects in the petroleum sector, inaugurating an engineering college, laying base of another engineering college besides slamming successive Congress governments for underdevelopment of the state.

Even as he indicated that election date for Assam is likely to be announced in the first week of March.

On his third visit to Assam in a month, Modi, who dedicated to the nation three major projects in the petroleum sector worth over Rs 3,222 crore, enumerated steps taken by the state government led by Sarbananda Sonowal, who wants to transform the state into ‘Aatmanirbhar Assam’ and the Centre over the past few years for its balanced growth.

He dedicated to the nation INDMAX Unit at Indian Oil’s Bongaigaon Refinery, Oil India Limited’s Secondary Tank Farm at Madhuban, Dibrugarh and a Gas Compressor Station at Hebeda Village, Makum, Tinsukia remotely from Dhemaji on Monday.

He also inaugurated Dhemaji Engineering College and laid the foundation stone for Sualkuchi Engineering College with initial project cost of Rs 45 crore and Rs 55 crore respectively in this town on the northern bank of the Brahmaputra.

He had unleashed a major development offensive in the run up to the state polls on February 7 when he laid the foundation of and dedicated to the nation infrastructure projects involving Rs 9,310 crore.

Again, on February 18, he had gifted a bouquet of development projects worth about Rs 10,000 crore to the state.

“Those who ruled for decades since Independence believed Dispur was too distant from Delhi. ‘Dilli ab door nahi aapke darwaaze par hai’ (Delhi is not far now, it stands at your doorstep),” he told a massive gathering.

The previous governments adopted “step-motherly” approach to the north bank region and neglected connectivity, health, education and industry, he alleged.

“I had come earlier to Gogamuk in the state’s north bank and said that Assam and the northeast will become the new growth engine of the country and now we see this belief bear fruit,” he said.

The Prime Minister said due to sustained efforts by the Assam government more than 20 engineering colleges have been set up.

Referring to the new National Education Policy (NEP), he said its emphasis on teaching in local languages will help children from even poor families become doctors and engineers.

Modi said hardly 40 per cent families in Assam had cooking gas connections till 2014 despite the state being rich in oil and natural gas and refineries. Almost entire population of the state has now been covered under the Ujjwala Yojana and one crore women have benefited, he said.

“The gas pipelines, optical fibre networks and piped water supply initiatives are not mere iron pipes and fibre. These are the new fate lines of India,” he asserted.

He added the gas unit plant launched on Monday is going to increase the capacity of LPG production and will make life easier for the people in Assam and Northeast. It will also increase employment opportunities for the youth in this region.

He said improvement in energy and infrastructure development will make life easier for the people of Assam and the northeast and create fresh job opportunities for youth.

Oil storage capacity has been strengthened for the purpose of refining and meeting emergency situations, he said.

“Assam is known across the world over for its tea, tourism, handloom and handicraft. The growth of these sectors will generate more employment and strengthen the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ mission,” he said.

Reaching out to tea garden workers, a solid support base of the BJP, Modi said improving their living condition was a priority of both the state and the central governments.

“With the blessings of the Brahmaputra, the land in this region is fertile. We are working for improving farm income, providing agriculturists better seeds, soil health cards and introducing pension schemes,” he said.

Farm laws have been amended to ensure their produce reaches international markets, the Prime Minister said.

He said his government has earmarked Rs 20,000 crore for strengthening the fisheries sector and Assam will hugely benefit from it.

Modi said he will visit Assam and other poll bound states as many times as possible before elections are announced, likely in first week of March.

Governor Prof. Jagdish Mukhi, chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Union minister for petroleum and natural gas Dharmendra Pradhan and minister of state for food processing industries Rameswar Teli were also present on the occasion.

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