On this important day in the annals of our great country - the 68th Republic Day, I extend my warm greetings, felicitations and best wishes for a prosperous New Year to all who have gathered here today and to the people of Mizoram. On this auspicious day, let us remember with gratitude and reverence, the Founding Fathers who bequeathed to us the Constitution of this great Republic, a Constitution which reflects the ideals and aspirations of the people and guarantees Sovereign, Socialist, Secular Democratic Republic for India.
Mizoram takes great pride in the existence of peace and tranquility, which are prerequisites for all round development and harmonious co-existence. The credit for maintaining our status as one of the most peaceful states not only goes to our efficient law enforcing agencies but more importantly to the NGOs, churches, media and the general public. I thank them for their unwavering support in this regard.
On this auspicious occasion, I seek to briefly highlight some of the achievements and visions of my government for the benefit and welfare of our people.
1. While continuing the flagship programme – New Land Use Policy (NLUP), which is in the final stages of implementation and completion, we have formulated a comprehensive growth strategy for Mizoram – New Economic Development Policy (NEDP). It is being implemented in full swing starting from 2016-17 for which we have earmarked Rs. 250 crores and another Rs. 27 crores is expected to be converged with NLUP during this financial year. Under NLUP, the 1st and 2nd Phase beneficiaries have been completely covered while beneficiaries under the 3rd and 4th Phase are being assisted in a fast track manner. It may be worthwhile to mention that against an original target of 1,20,000 beneficiaries, NLUP has covered 1,31,940 beneficiaries. Through NLUP, over the past five years, we have brought about significant and visible changes in the socio-economic scenario of our subsistence economy and the next step is to transform it to a market economy and this very shift is the purpose of NEDP. NEDP aims to provide bold, practical and effective comprehensive strategies to push the economy to a higher growth trajectory by enhancing productivity, creating employment opportunities, improving public finances, improving business environment and improving public delivery in a sustainable manner. We will need to make an all-out effort for the successful implementation of this ambitious Programme. Our collective effort must be bent towards bringing progress to the state for which cooperation is essential and the government machinery must also prepare to meet this challenge.
2. My Government is aware that agriculture and its allied sectors are primary to our growth and development and that it is the very backbone of our economy as more than 70 percent of the population is engaged in it. Utmost importance and due stress is given to these sectors to bring about self-sufficiency and lessen our agricultural dependence on neighboring states. Our need for self-sufficiency is underlined by the fact that we are producing only 33.71% of our rice requirement, which is our staple food. Thus, we are aiming towards self-sufficiency in terms of food production with the utmost urgency. Concerned Departments are taking all efforts towards increasing agricultural, horticultural, veterinary and fishery produce through various programmes, schemes and interventions. Under NLUP, Rashtriya Krishi Vigyan Yojana (RKVY), Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH) and Sub Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM), notable progress has been made in the agriculture and allied sectors which has helped in the growth of our economy. Under North East Region Textile Promotion Scheme (NERTPS) sericulture is being developed with a new vigour. Recently, Lunglei District was awarded Best Krishi Vigyan Kendra for ICAR Zone – III among the 78 KVKs in North Eastern Region. Of the 25 on-going minor irrigation projects, 18 of them are scheduled for completion during this financial year while the remaining 7 will be completed during 2017-18. During the current financial year, 5 new minor irrigation projects are being started. Once completed, these schemes will benefit our marginal farmers and bring more areas under cultivation.
3. Roads and power are important indicators of infrastructural development and provision of potable drinking water facilities is an important parameter of progress. Due emphasis is being given for completing and improving the existing road network by improving the maintenance of roads. During 2016-17, a total road length of 145.63 kilometres has been completed at a total cost of Rs. 86.54 crores while a large number of new road works are also in progress. The longest suspension bridge over River Chhimtuipui at Darzokai was completed and inaugurated in December 2016. During 2016-17, 112 buildings have been completed; Construction of Raj Bhawan Phase I; Construction of Engineer-in-Chief, Power & Electricity Department Office Building and Construction of Science & Technology Directorate Building are notable ones among others. 60 MW Tuirial Hydro Electric Project, 5 MW Tlawva Small Hydel Project, 3.5 MW Kawlbem Small Hydel Project and 100 kW Tuiriza and Tuiching Hydel Project are expected to be completed within this year. Solar Power Policy is being formulated in tune with the National Solar Mission so that the state can get maximum benefit. Our State is rich in water resources, which can be utilized for hydro power generation. Mizoram has a potential of 4500 MW if all the rivers are harnessed. In the meanwhile, we need to focus on reducing and ultimately eliminating our transmission and distribution losses. Rural and urban habitations alike are being targeted for Fully Covered from Partially Covered status in terms of water supply and various water supply schemes are being implemented and are nearing completion. Kelkang Water Supply Scheme, the largest solar energy based pumping water supply scheme in Asia was commissioned in November 2016. Champhai District was declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) District very recently while other 4 more Districts are expected to be declared ODF Districts during this year.
4. Improvement of healthcare facilities and health parameters remain a top priority of my government. We should remember that we hold the dubious distinction of having the highest incidences of cancer, HIV cases, tobacco use and drug abuse in the country. It is time for a serious introspection, and a willingness to change our lifestyle habits. Alongside, promotion of alternative medicine using traditional herbs which is abundant in the State needs to be promoted for the good of the society. The upgradation of State Referral Hospital, Falkawn for establishment of Mizoram Institute of Medical Education and Research (MIMER) is being taken up concertedly at all levels and the Upgradation of Mizoram State Cancer Institute in terms of technical and medical capability is also going on smoothly. Infrastructural development in terms of building and equipment in the District Hospitals are also being implemented. Mizoram State Health Care Scheme (MSHCS) and Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) continue to provide the much needed medical cover to the needy and weaker sections of the society. Malaria incidence has greatly decreased in 2016 as compared to 2015 by 67 percent with all Districts showing reduction in malarial cases and deaths. The much awaited 50 bedded Integrated AYUSH Hospital at Thenzawl, the first of its kind in the entire North Eastern Region was inaugurated last October. AYUSH OPD buildings at Haulawng, Hnahthial, Thingsulthliah and Tlabung will be inaugurated shortly. School health programmes are being regularly conducted across the state to improve the overall quality of life of children through various interventional programmes.
5. My Government realizes the significance and importance of education for the empowerment of the people and the role it plays in our growth process. Adequate attention is being paid for the maximum utilization of available resources for imparting quality education at all levels. Construction of Education Centre at Aizawl, Construction of Education Complex at Serchhip and 4 (four) other major infrastructure projects at a total cost of Rs 20.58 crores are currently in progress. Reconstruction of 13 Primary School buildings, 8 Middle School buildings and 8 Secondary School buildings; Repair of 140 school buildings and construction of 25 kitchen and dining hall at a cost of Rs 24.31 crores are proposed to be undertaken with loan from NABARD. The long awaited aspiration of the people of Mizoram to have a Sainik School will soon be fulfilled and Sainik School Chhingchhip will admit the first batch of 50 students from the academic year 2017-18 onwards. Hopefully, we will have the girls also joining in the years ahead. Concurrently, we are working to enhance the coordination between the State Government and the Central Government educational institutions, including the Kendriya Vidyalayas (KV), the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNV), the Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS), and also the National Cadet Corps (NCC), so that the Mizo students can reap maximum benefit from them. The recruitment process for 47 Science and 64 Mathematics teachers for Government High Schools have been started and this will address the acute shortage of teachers in these crucial subject areas.
6. My Government is committed to improving the quality of life for people in both the rural and urban areas. A number of new and on-going schemes to empower people in rural areas and for improvement of basic amenities in urban areas are being implemented. Schemes such as Integrated Watershed Management Programme/Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sichaai Yojana, National Rural Livelihoods Mission, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and Border Area Development Programme among others have greatly improved life in rural areas while new schemes like Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission will definitely bring in economic empowerment of people in rural areas. Mizoram is a highly urbanized state with various challenges which are envisaged to be addressed through programmes like Swacch Bharat Mission (Urban), National Urban Livelihoods Mission, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation, Housing for All (Urban) and Smart Cities Mission. Through our efforts in urban sanitation we strive to emerge as the Cleanest State In India and to make our cities, towns and villages as the cleanest habitations by 2019. The Asian Develoment Bank (ADB) assisted North Eastern Regional Capital Cities Development Investment Programme has been instrumental in taking up infrastructures such as water supply, sewerage and solid waste management.
7. My Government continues to promote various sports disciplines and aims to provide ample sports infrastructures to the youth and the sporting talents of the state. We are proud to say that Mizoram has one of the best sports infrastructures among the North Eastern states and we strive to make it even better through more additions to the existing pool of facilities. We are trying to create a new world for our youth through sports promotion. Last year, we inked an agreement with Tata Trusts for football development aimed at young children and in a short span of a few months, I am very happy that it has borne fruit; 17 of our young boys have very recently embarked on an exciting journey to learn football in Germany for 4 years. We are proud that our athletes and sportspersons have brought home 89 Gold, 47 Silver and 51 Bronze Medals from International, National and Regional Competitions during last year. Mizoram, as we know, has a very high literacy rate. However, this is not translating into gainful employment opportunity for them. The State needs to focus on skill development, especially agriculture, horticulture and allied activities. Mizoram Youth Commission has been facilitating skill development trainings for employment and more than 3000 youth have attended such enriching programmes and a large number of them have found gainful employment outside the state in the services and hospitality sectors. Alongside, we need to make concerted efforts for the entry of our youth into the Armed Forces and the Central Civil Services. Further, there is an urgent need to promote Hindi further amongst the Mizo people so that it will lead to more employment avenues outside the State.
8. My Government understands that global warming is a reality that we cannot escape and climate mitigation strategies are essential to combat the inherent and silent changes taking place. Through various afforestation programmes and our own Green Mizoram initiative we are trying the increase the forest cover, paying attention to the diversity of tree species to ensure the survival of both avian and terrestrial fauna.
9. Funding pattern to the three Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) has been revised starting from the current fiscal year as per the recommendations of the 1st Mizoram Finance Commission. This must bring in more accountability and better coordination between the ADCs and the State Government, and amongst the ADCs themselves. This positive change is expected to accelerate the pace of development in these areas. Financial devolution to Local Bodies has also been enhanced.
10. The Cooperative Movement is being strengthened and enhanced through Integrated Cooperative Development Programme (ICDP) and under Revival Package for Handloom. It is heartening to note that Mizoram State Cooperative Marketing and Consumers Federation (MIZOFED); Mizoram Cooperative Apex Bank Limited (MCAB Ltd.); Multi-Commodity Producers’ Cooperative Society Limited; (MULCO) and Mizoram Apex Handloom Cooperative Limited (MAHCO) have registered profits during 2015-16.
11. With the objective of creating an environment of transparent and accountable good governance by digital interactions and facilities, we are putting stress on information communication technologies for the benefit of the people. We are trying our best to making the vision of Digital India a reality through our concerted efforts.
12. My Government is concerned with the welfare of the workforce, the differently abled, the elderly, children and women and continues to implement various programmes for their well being and empowerment to ensure social and economic justice to them.
13. My Government is aware of the vulnerability of Himalayan states like Mizoram and we are paying utmost attention towards preparedness and drills to meet any such untoward occurrences of nature. Here I would like to underline the importance of adhering to laid down norms in the construction of buildings and urge people to stringently follow these guidelines.
14. To ensure equitable distribution of food grains and for efficient implementation of the National Food Security Act, 2013 to the stakeholders, digitization of District Offices, Supply Godowns, Depots and Ration Cards has already been completed. 17 new godowns are nearing completion while loan for construction of 27 more such infrastructures have been secured from NABARD; work is expected to commence shortly.
15. For effective implementation of the Goods & Services Tax, Taxation Department is readying itself. Implementation of GST is eagerly awaited because prices of goods and services are expected to be considerably lower and to be globally competitive.
16. My Government prioritizes the expansion of border trade with neighbouring countries and has created a number of infrastructures to facilitate border trade.
I have covered only a few aspects of many programmes of the Government. This does not mean that other areas of development are neglected; equal importance is attached to all Departments and various organs of governance. I am confident that Mizoram will march forward hand in hand with other parts of the country towards a brighter, better and happier future. On this day let us pledge ourselves to work unitedly for a strong, progressive and prosperous Mizoram and the nation as a whole.
In conclusion, I take this opportunity to once again express my gratitude to all the NGOs, Churches, media and the general public for having faith and confidence in my government and also for extending their whole hearted support in all its endevours for the progress and development of Mizoram. I would like to compliment the parade contingents, the students and all the people who have gathered here today. With your strong co-operation and unwavering support of the Central Government, I am confident that the Mizoram Government will be able to fully achieve the vision and goals for which it stands committed.
As worthy citizens of this country, let us rededicate ourselves towards nurturing, safeguarding and strengthening the ideals, values and systems enshrined in our Constitution. For, if this is weakened by irresponsible action and short-sighted thinking, the very edifice of our Freedom and Democracy will crumble. We should stand united and guard against this danger. Let us all march from strength to strength, hand in hand and shoulder to shoulder towards, peace, progress and development in creating a stronger, peaceful, resilient and greater India.
Let us, on this day resolve to preserve and strengthen the unity and integrity of this great country and to work for the missions that will make Mizoram a place where all can lead a healthy life style and live with dignity, peace, prosperity and happiness.
Ka lawm e. Jai Mizoram. Jai Hind.