Northeast struggling with backwardness: Meira Kumar


Shillong : Those influenced by the cult of violence should be brought back into the mainstream, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar said here Friday asserting that India’s restive northeast region is suffering from underdevelopment, unemployment, backwardness and insurgency.

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Durable peace and prosperity in the northeast region is a must, Meira Kumar said while inaugurating the 12th North East Region Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (NERCPA) Conference in the Meghalaya capital.

“Despite rich natural resources and enormous potential for growth, the northeast is grappling with multifarious problems of underdevelopment, unemployment, backwardness and insurgency,” the speaker lamented.

She underlined that the “adverse impact (of violence) on the overall development of the region varied only in degrees between states in the area”.

There are some 30 rebel groups operating in the oil and timber-rich region with demands ranging from secession to greater autonomy and the right to self-determination.

Meira Kumar asked representatives of the people at all levels to ensure accountability, transparency and responsive governance by “eliminating any scope for corruption and mismanagement”.

“There is a need to empower and energize the various institutions of local self-government like the village panchayats, village councils and the village development boards so as to promote peace and achieve equitable and inclusive growth,” she said.

Meira Kumar said violence and democracy could not co-exist and that “necessary initiatives should be taken to bring back those influenced by the cult of violence, into the mainstream of our society”.

Referring to the transfer of a large amount of resources by way of special economic and developmental packages for the region by the central government, she urged the states to keep an “unremitting vigil” over various programmes and ensure that the available funds are spent in the best interest of the people.

The three-day conference is scheduled to discuss ways and means to strengthen functioning of the legislative assemblies in the eight north-eastern states. Speakers, deputy speakers and some selected legislators of all the eight states of the region are taking part.