Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh inaugurated the Platinum Jubilee Celebration of Assam Legislative Assembly in Guwahati today. Following is the text of the Prime Minister’s speech on the occasion:
“Nomoskar! I am truly delighted to be here once again in my adopted home state of Assam. I am particularly happy to be here today a week after Bihu. I wish the people of Assam sustained peace, progress and prosperity.
I was to be here two weeks ago, but President Zardari of Pakistan’s visit to Delhi required me to reschedule my visit. I am sorry that I was unable to join you on 7th April which was the anniversary date for the Assam State Legislature.
We have gathered here to celebrate 75 glorious years of the State Legislative Assembly. I feel truly proud to be associated with this event because of its great historic significance. Three score and fifteen years ago, when Assam’s first elected assembly was inaugurated, this institution was one of the tallest pillars of democracy in this part of the world.
I feel humbled to stand here today and salute the memory of Bharat Ratna Lokapriya Shri Gopinath Bordoloi, Dr. Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed and their compatriots who inspired the people of Assam, and the people of our beloved Motherland of India. I salute the memory of all the great daughters and sons of Assam who have sat in these hallowed portals, giving expression to the free voice and spirit of the people of Assam. I remember with great fondness and respect the contribution of my friend and two time Chief Minister Shri Hiteshwar Saikia to the progress Assam has made.
This legislative assembly is a temple of our democracy. It is a sacred place for us to reaffirm our Constitutional commitment to pluralism, to human rights, to secularism and to the dignity of every citizen.
Our freedom and our democracy are the proud inheritance of our national movement. To do justice to this inheritance, we, the elected representatives of our people, are obliged to provide honest, effective and capable leadership and government.
I am delighted that we celebrate this anniversary today with my friend, Chief Minister Shri Tarun Gogoi, once again at the head of the government of Assam. He has set a record of sorts with his humane and effective leadership.
Assam has now been the beneficiary of over a decade of sustained progress, economic and social development. As an adopted son of this great State I feel happy that Assam is now on the cusp of emerging as one of our frontline States. This august Assembly has also much to be proud about its past decade. It has been witness to many pro-people legislation and development-oriented initiatives.
I compliment the state government for taking Assam to new heights of development. In the 9th Five year Plan period the state economy of Assam grew at the rate of just 1.51 percent. This increased to about 5.7 percent during the 10th plan period. Due to the special emphasis given to development by the governments in the State and at the Centre, Assam achieved an annual average growth rate of 6.8 percent during the first four years of the 11th Five year plan. I am delighted to learn that in the last year of the 11th Plan Assam is expected to record a growth rate of 7.18 percent. Assam is catching up with the national average. This is good news but more needs to be done.
I would like to see Assam emerge as a new engine of growth for the North Eastern region and the country as a whole in the 12th Plan period. I am confident that in the 12th Plan Assam will be able to record a rate of growth of over 9.0 percent! I assure the people of Assam that the Central government will do whatever is possible to help Assam to achieve this goal.
Indeed in the last about 8 years our government has been in office, we have tried our very best to extend a helping hand to the government and people of Assam. The annual plan outlay for the State has increased from Rs 3000 crore in 2005-06 to Rs 9,000 crore in 2011-2012. The total transfers to Assam for the period 2010-2015 as per the recommendations of the 13th Finance Commission would be about Rs 58,000 crore against the total of Rs 24,000 crore estimated for the period 2005-2010.
The Assam Gas Cracker project was approved in April 2006. The project with an estimated cost of about Rs 8,000 crore is progressing well and is likely to be completed in December 2013.
A new 750 MW Bongaigaon Thermal Power Project at an estimated cost of about Rs 4400 crore was approved in January 2008. The project is likely to be completed in October 2013.
During the 11th Plan period over 8000 km pucca roads have been constructed under the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana. More that 6 lakh rural houses have been constructed under the Indira Awas Yojana.
Several Externally Aided Projects have been taken up in roads, flood management, power and urban development.
A Centre of Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology has been set up at Sibsagar and a National Institute of Design is being set up at Jorhat.
The new wave of development in Assam has been made possible by a period of social peace and political stability. There is a general realisation today that violence provides no answers and that diverse groups can fulfill their aspirations only through engagement in the democratic processes. This feeling has in no small measure resulted from the fact that the government of Assam is working for the people and for their all-round betterment. I am sure that the few insurgent groups that continue to remain outside the democratic process will understand the sentiments of the people of Assam and come forward to create an atmosphere that is conducive for accelerating the pace of social and economic development in this great beautiful State of our Republic. Assam’s development can be the engine of growth for the entire north-eastern region as a whole.
In recent years, we have taken new initiatives to strengthen our relations with Bangladesh & Myanmar. Last year, I visited Bangladesh. The Chief Minister Shri Gogoi accompanied me and we were able to agree on a number of steps that will benefit both our countries.
Next month I am scheduled to visit Myanmar. I will discuss with the leadership of Myanmar how we can increase opportunities for expansion of trade, economic cooperation and connectivity to the larger ASEAN region. Assam and the other states of the North East can and should play leading roles in our efforts to Look East-wards.
The key to development in the north eastern region is infrastructure. We need better educational and services infrastructure. We need better transport connectivity. As connectivity improves and capabilities expand, so will commerce and employment opportunities. The rapid improvement in the Assam’s human development indicators gives us hope and reason to believe that the progress Assam has recently experienced can be sustained over the long term. I see tremendous potential in this beautiful state for the growth of new industries that will generate employment for its young people and new avenues for local enterprises and professionals to flourish.
Even as we celebrate the Platinum Jubilee of the Assam Legislative Assembly, we should not forget that there are many nations in the world which are just waking up to the new light of democracy. As the world’s largest democracy we in India warmly welcome all those who seek a world of freedom and Constitutional government.
The first sitting of the Assam Legislative Assembly was held on April 7, 1937 at Shillong. The capital of Assam continued to be in Shillong till 1972, when the state government decided to make Dispur, Guwahati the new capital. Assam has come a long way since those times. And it holds great promise for the future of Assam. I am happy that the state government has decided to build a new complex at Dispur to house both the Assam Legislative Assembly and the proposed Assam Legislative Council. I am told that the project is expected to be completed by 2014. It is my fondest hope and wish that the new complex will enable the representatives of the people of Assam to serve their people and their causes even better than ever before.
You know that for years I have repeatedly come to this blessed state of Assam to express my profound and heartfelt gratitude to the people of Assam, for the love and affection they have showered on me and my family in electing me to our Parliament.
I remain deeply indebted to the people of Assam. I was born in a distant and dusty village in a part of this sub-continent that is no longer in India. At a tender age I became homeless and a migrant. It is in Assam that I have finally found a home that has given me a sense of belonging. The friendship, the affection and the warmth that each one of you have so readily extended to me is something I cannot and will not ever forget.
So I stand before you, my friends, as one of you, sharing your sense of pride and achievement and joy on this historic occasion.
I sincerely pray that in the State Legislative Assembly the best interests of the people of Assam are given adequate voice for all time to come.
May your path be blessed. Jai Hind! Jai Assam.”
Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Prime Minister’s Office