The Vice President, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu today called for viewing rapid urbanization as an opportunity and emphasised the need to focus on people-centric urban planning and development. “We must see that our cities are inclusive cities that cater to basic needs of the urban poor by increasing their access to water supply, sewer connections, housing and improved service delivery,” he said.
The Vice President made these remarks at a civic reception hosted in his honour by the Government of Tripura. On this occasion, Shri Naidu also launched the project of conversion of roads of Agartala city into Smart roads.
Emphasizing that good connectivity is a prerequisite for the overall development of any region, he said that this is even more true in the case of our landlocked North-Eastern States.
“Connectivity—be it physical or digital, has to improve for investments to flow and economic activity to pick up pace,” he further said. Under the newly inaugurated project, the roads within Agartala city and those connecting the capital with its peripheral area will be converted into climate-resilient roads with an investment of Rs 439 crore. The Project not only aims to decongest the city but will also provide better facilities to residents of Agartala by way of better lighting, footpaths, signage, storm water drains and a utility corridor, among others. “Together, these development initiatives will also improve public health by reducing urban floods and air quality,” Shri Naidu said.
Taking note of massive infrastructure development taking place in the Northeast region under the Act East Policy, the Vice President expressed satisfaction that leveraging this thrust, the Government of Tripura has taken several initiatives to boost social and economic development of the state. Listing a number of projects to ease transportation bottlenecks, he said that the railway network has already expanded to the far end of Tripura—to Sabroom, and efforts are being made to revive waterways which could soon emerge as an efficient and cheap mode of transportation. Lauding the efforts for upgrading the MBB Airport and making the Kailashahar airport operational, Shri Naidu said that these combined efforts will lend a fillip to tourism and other industries in Tripura.
Recognizing that Tripura is a fertile land for fruits like pineapple, jackfruit, lemon, orange, the Vice President praised the state government’s initiative for creating right market linkages for these fruits in India and abroad. “The newly introduced Kisan Rail connects Tripura to New Delhi, Kolkata and other cities, thereby opening up a new avenue for the farmers of Tripura to market their produce in the country viably,” he said. He suggested that the Centre and states should focus on increasing the exports of our horticultural products, given the global popularity of our indigenous products. He called for improved access to information for our farmers and better branding, marketing and connectivity to boost agri-exports.
Shri Naidu also welcomed the Agar Mission which was launched in Tripura recently with an aim to create an agar-based economy in the state to the tune of Rs 2000 Crore per year by 2025. It will not only promote agar-based industries in Tripura but also encourage plantation of more and more Agar trees thus leading to conservation and propagation of this endangered plant species, he said. Noting that Tripura is the second largest producer of natural rubber in the country after Kerala, he appreciated the state government for assisting rubber plantations and encouraging the rubber-based industry.
Observing that the agarbatti stick industry in Tripura has been adversely impacted by decrease in import duty on bamboo sticks in the past, the Vice President expressed happiness that the Government of India has now raised the import duty on agarbatti sticks and as a result, the industry in the state has begun to thrive. He also complimented the state government for launching a new scheme called Mukhyamantri Agarbatti Atmanirbhar Mission to give a further impetus to this household business activity.
Wishing the people of the state, Shri Naidu hoped that the Government of Tripura under the Chief Ministership of Shri Biplab Kumar Dev would keep working for the welfare of the people of Tripura. Stressing on the importance of transparency and accountability in governance, Shri Naidu said the fruits of government initiatives should reach even the last beneficiary. “There should be no delay, deviation, dilution to the government funds”, the Vice President reiterated.
Later, the Vice President interacted with achievers from the primary sector, SHG members and frontline workers.
Praising the SHGs for their dedication and hard work, he said that they are playing a crucial role not only in empowering women but also in strengthening the rural economy. Shri Naidu evinced keen interest to about the activities and experiences of the women SHG members present during the occasion. He listened to their experiences and posed many questions about their activities and welfare.
Interacting with the healthcare workers, the Vice President lauded their services to the country during the pandemic and learnt about their experiences during the second wave.
Shri Biplab Kumar Deb, Chief Minister Of Tripura, Smt. Pratima Bhoumik, Union Minister Of State for the Ministry of Social Justice And Empowerment, Shri Jishnu Dev Varma, Deputy Chief Minister Of Tripura, Dr. Kumar Alok, Chief Secretary, Govt. Of Tripura and other dignitaries were present during the event.