SHILLONG, June 17 (PTI): Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma Monday requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to set up a Presidential retreat in the north-east to send a message of inclusiveness and importance for the NE region.
Sangma and his cabinet colleagues met the prime minister at New Delhi and particularly sought that a Presidential retreat be built at Shillong. “We should have a Presidential retreat in NE and specifically in Shillong … Shillong is the historical capital of the region … this will ensure that the President visits NE every year for two weeks and that gives a strong message of inclusiveness and importance for the region,” Conrad said in an audio statement here.
“The Presidential retreat is a guest house where the President of the country spends two weeks or more there. Currently there are two – one in Hyderabad and in Shimla,” he said.
The chief minister also sought the intervention of the prime minister to build a parallel road connecting Silchar, Dawki and Mahendraganj in the East with Kolkata via Bangladesh.
“There is a location in West Bengal, Hilly, and Mahendraganj in Meghalaya which is only 100 km apart. This is the closest destinations apart (via Bangladesh),” Conrad said, elaborating that this will be the second lifeline for the country if anything happens (at all) to the East – West corridor that goes via the 8 km area in West Bengal often referred to as the chicken neck.
He also proposed an 8-lane highway from Guwahati to Chittagong port in Bangladesh via Dawki in Meghalaya cutting short the distance to the nearest port by over 400 km.
“Presently, we go all the way to Kolkata port which is 1,100 km away from Guwahati. If both Governments (India and Bangladesh) agree on making an 8-lane highway that would connect Guwahati – Shillong – Dawki – Chittagong port, our exports will go up. More exports will take place with the rest of the world and the cost of export would go down,” he said.
The chief minister also proposed to the prime minister that two or three states can partner for a common purpose of growth and development for achieving the overall development dream of ‘team India’.
Citing an example that Meghalaya can have a sister state and work with Maharashtra government, Conrad said the two states can work on an MoU and can go for exchange of interests and culture.
“Bollywood can come to Meghalaya and in turn our organic foods can go to Mumbai and the tourism aspect can develop. It may also be a research collaboration that can take place between two states or that entrepreneurs can meet up,” he said, adding that such an understanding between states can strengthen ‘team India’ and their outputs be improved exponentially.
The chief minister also briefed the prime minister on the 2022 National Games which will be held in Meghalaya and this coincides with the state’s 50th anniversary and the country’s 75th anniversary.
“It is a prestigious event and must be celebrated in a befitting manner. Therefore, it is necessary to put our effort together to make this game the games of new India which PM has in mind. Opportune moment for all of us to make it happened in a grand manner,” he said.
“I mentioned about the National Games, 75th year of India’s Independence and 50th year of Meghalaya statehood in 2022. It is a prestigious event and must be celebrated in a befitting manner. Therefore, it is necessary to put our effort together to make this game the games of new India which PM has in mind.
The chief minister also sought replication of the Meghalaya model of the 1917-iteam to address the issues faced by the farmers.
“We started the 1917 i-teams system to help the farmers and this system ensures connection between buyers and sellers. It also acts as advisory board on farm related issues besides handling the issue of transport and technical support needed by the farmers,” Conrad said.
Stating that it is like an Uber for the farmers, he said the prime minister “liked the idea” of its expansion throughout the country.
He also requested the prime minister on the inclusion of Khasi and Garo languages in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.