Shillong, July 29: The 20th Annual Conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), India Region Zone III, commenced its first day of sessions today at the prestigious Meghalaya Legislative Assembly in Rilbong, Shillong. The event witnessed the presence of revered delegates, including Om Birla, Speaker, Lok Sabha; Harivansh Narayan Singh, Deputy Chairman, Rajya Sabha; Conrad K. Sangma, Chief Minister, Government of Meghalaya; Thomas A. Sangma, Speaker, Meghalaya Legislative Assembly; Pasang D. Sona, Speaker, Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly and Chairman, CPA India Region Zone III, among others. Esteemed delegates, convened to deliberate on crucial topics concerning the North East Region, with a primary focus on Natural Disasters and strategies for management with special reference to North East Region and Regional connectivity to bring North-East Region at par with mainland India.

Speaker of Lok Sabha, Om Birla said, We have to talk through every problem to find out a practicable solution. Centre and State will work together towards finding a long-lasting solution to tackle the menace of natural disasters. Northeast is an important part of the country. In regards to connectivity, the community needs to understand the importance of connecting northeast with mainland India, as it can bring a lot of development in all aspects to the states. Therefore, it is necessary for all to work together with a common objective of the overall development of the northeast and the country as a whole.

Referring to the recent events that took place in the North East, Birla expressed the sentiment that such incidents are extremely painful for us as a society and as human beings. Our behavior with no one should cause any kind of pain to her, should not hurt her dignity and it should be our endeavor and it is our moral duty as an individual, and as a society to ensure the same, concluded Birla. Birla appealed for peace in the region as peace is the path to development, he asserted.

Chief Minister of Meghalaya, Conrad K. Sangma, contributed to the discussions on both topics. “I have in the recently concluded G20 Summit on Nature Solves advocated for the setting up of a Centre for Climate Change in the State of Meghalaya. The centre can be a regional hub of excellence gathering climate data and designing strategies for the entire North Eastern Region. 

“The Meghalaya Government is coordinating with the North Eastern Space Applications Centre (NESAC), Department of Space, Government of India, for an early warning alert system for cyclone, landslide, flood and lightning. The State Government has also decided to use Drone technology in disaster management and its mitigation.We are also building capacities, involving communities, and preparing for post-disaster recovery plan. Meghalaya has been focusing on improving trade activities at the border areas. Road connectivity along the Dawki-Bholaganj Road and Tura-Dalu Road are also being improved. We also are establishing integrated check posts and border haats to promote economic activities.Through PMGSY over 4200 Kms of rural roads have been constructed across the state. Through PM- Gati Shakti we are already connecting key economic hubs in the state.Currently, 18 major road projects are being implemented to connect Meghalaya with other states. We are now taking steps to upgrade the Shillong Airport to accommodate bigger flights.We have additionally requested the Ministry of Civil Aviation to declare the Shillong Airport as an International Airport. Under the Act East Policy, several projects, funded by the Ministry of External Affairs, have been undertaken to connect North-eastern states with neighboring countries like Myanmar & Bangladesh. This even includes the development of an economic corridor.”

In his address, Speaker, Meghalaya Legislative Assembly, Thomas A. Sangma highlighted the historical significance of the CPA India Region Zone III. “The aims of the CPA India Region Zone III is to promote knowledge of the constitutional, legislative, economic, social and cultural aspects of parliamentary democracy with special reference to the 8 (Eight) North Eastern States which are Sub-Branches of the main CPA India Region Branch, Lok Sabha. It is our fundamental duty to jointly manage and adopt strategies to tackle these disasters occurring from time to time. Regional connectivity to bring North East Region at par with mainland India is equally very important for North Eastern States. Assam is the gateway of the North East States for connecting with other mainland States. Development of infrastructures for Air, Roads and Railways are very important for connectivity not only with mainland India, but also with other South East Asian Countries for economic and tourism development of the region.”

Speaker, Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly and Chairman, CPA India Region Zone III, Pasang D. Sona, delivered a keynote address on Natural Disaster Management and importance of digital connectivity. “Northeast region is prone to Natural Disaster due to its geographical position. But never in the national media it is highlighted properly. At this discussion we are focusing on finding a lasting solution to cope up with the menace and help the government both in state and centre come out with a proper solution to contain it. Regional connectivity to bring Northeast closer to mainland India is of utmost important. Over the time there has been a sea of changes and developments, also still a lot need to be done. Also in terms of connectivity, we also need to be focus more on digital connectivity for the larger good of masses.”

Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha, Harivansh Narayan Singh, shared his valuable insights during the event, he said, Throughout the region of Northeast, there have been a lot of development work being done on the aspect of connectivity. The connectivity by road from Guwahati and Shillong was unimaginable before. The connectivity has improved a lot since and will be better in days to come.

Moreover, to tackle the problem of natural disaster, community and citizen involvement is utmost necessary. With proper planning and having a better understanding of the menace, we can try to minimize the damage to a larger extent. The 20th Annual Conference of CPA, India Region Zone III, is off to a promising start with constructive discussions on critical topics that impact the North East Region’s development. The conference continues with more sessions and engagements over the next day.