SHILLONG: Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma has called for joint efforts by all the Northeastern states and the Union Government to address the root causes affecting internal security in the region in the context of their unique geo-political background.

“I would request the Union Government to pursue an active and aggressive approach towards addressing the complex geo-political issues of this region by improving economic ties with the neighboring countries and by facilitating people to people contact in the region as a whole,” Sangma said while speaking at the annual All India Director General of Police (DGPs) conference in Guwahati on Sunday.

The Chief Minister also stated that militant outfits were posing stiff challenges to internal security in certain pockets of the State.

According to him, the security setup in the State has achieved some success in controlling the activities of the militants, which is apparent by the recent signing of the peace pact with some groups and the surrender of a number of militants.

To enable the State Government to contain and eradicate this menace the Centre should sanction the proposal for up gradation of police infrastructure in the State at the earliest, the Chief Minister observed.

He also requested the Union Government for up-gradation of infrastructure and technology adoption on the border with Bangladesh and sought the Centre’s assistance in providing one-time assistance for infrastructure, equipments and arms for the new unit of the Commando Force raised by the State.

“We also need assistance for setting up of ‘Home and Hearth Battalions’ in the State for assimilation of the youth to augment national defense preparedness. Sanction of Eco-Battalion of Territorial Army for ecological restoration of Cherrapunjee plateau and the Garo Hills region is also necessary,” Sangma said.

The Chief Minister also spoke on the need for better road connectivity to help facilitate trade routes, better internal security and better disaster management in a region, which falls under the Seismic Zone V.

He also urged the Centre to concentrate on provisions of a bridge over Brahmaputra on NH 127B and investments on 90:10 basis for roads of strategic and economic importance be provided to the State.

“The funds for inter-state roads also could be routed through the NEC, which understands the region. Third, expeditious completion of the double-laning of roads to all district headquarters under SARDP-NE and all roads under SARDP-NE need to be expeditiously taken up,” he said.

Pointing out the need to have connectivity through inland waterways, he said that there are number of rivers in Meghalaya which flow into Bangladesh and offer economical mode of transportation of goods adding that he had requested the Union Government’s support for developing at least three such waterways.

Despite the recent up-gradation of the Shillong Airport, the State does not have any functional airport since the Baljek Airport near Tura was yet to be made operational, the Chief Minister said.

“I would request the Government of India to provide policy support to incentivize private airlines to connect smaller airports in the North Eastern Region as well as to provide the necessary incentives to set up private airports for short take off and landing facilities to promote tourism in the State,” the Chief Minister said, while demanding modern infrastructure at the Guwahati International Airport, which is the major hub in the region.

He also urged the Centre to expedite proposal of providing international Internet gateway through Cox Bazaar in Bangladesh.

“The Government of India may consider launching a Central Sector Scheme to support North Eastern States in strengthening their telecommunication facilities based on their own local needs,” the Chief Minister said.

Soliciting support for power projects in the State, Sangma said that parts of the North East can generate huge amounts of hydel energy.

“Since the cost of construction of hydro projects is prohibitive, we would urge the Government of India to bring about suitable policy framework which would facilitate implementation of fast-track projects as Externally Aided Projects,” he said.

The Chief Minister also drew attention to the growing sense of restlessness amongst the youth of the North East Region arising out of lack of opportunities.

“We would urge the Government of India to work together with the State Governments to launch special projects for the youth of this region, especially the educated unemployed. The Central Government may also consider undertaking special recruitment drives for our youth in the Army and the Central Para Military Forces,” the Chief Minister said.

Sangma also suggested that various organizations of the Union Government should organize exposure visits for the youth, the potential entrepreneurs and the farmers of the North East to the best practices in the development sector.