Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's mega development package for Assam, with maximum thrust on boosting the state's education sector, has been hailed in Guwahati as a visionary step towards giving the region a cutting edge.
There was disappointment when the prime minister left Assam on Tuesday morning without making any promises, with two of his scheduled public rallies cancelled due to bad weather. But on late Tuesday, there was a statement from the prime minister's Office announcing a package for the development of the state.
From setting up a world-class university, a centre of the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology, a National Institute of Design, a Skill Development Mission, a state-level university of science and technology, and a law school and judicial academy, to creating a model school in every block, the prime minister's package was an educational bonanza for Assam.
"I think the people of Assam cannot ask for anything more as all these world class institutes could go a long way in developing the state in terms of human resource development," said Abani Das, a college teacher.
"The package is really noteworthy as the prime minister, instead of just doling out cash incentives, decided to go for specified projects and that too with a vision aimed at developing the skills of local youths by way of setting up several top notch educational facilities," said B. Barua, a retired university professor.
Apart from focusing on the education sector, the prime minister's package included setting up of three bridges over the river Brahmaputra, raising two India Reserve Battalions for deployment in the river border along Bangladesh, setting up of a Science City in Guwahati, besides reworking the North East Industrial Investment Promotion Policy (NEIIPP) for effective results.
"I have never come across a prime minister like Manmohan Singh, who has generously agreed to all our proposals. This shows how sincere and committed the prime minister is to the welfare and development of the state," Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told IANS.
Manmohan Singh represents Assam in the Rajya Sabha or upper house in parliament.
The financial incentives announced for the state include a Rs 2.5 billion package for the development of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), a politico-administrative structure set up in the tribal Bodo heartland in northern and western Assam.
Moreover, the prime minister also announced Rs 200 million to protect Majuli, South Asia's largest river island, from erosion and flooding, besides financial grants to the backward Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills districts, both hit by tribal insurgency.
"I think all these time bound projects would help develop Assam by leaps and bounds," the chief minister said.
The prime minister also mentioned the central government's initiatives in tackling the annual floods in Assam by working out an integrated mechanism.