Shillong: Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma on Thursday called for exploring new opportunities and asked to take advantage of what the immediate neighbour has to offer to facilitate economic growth.
"Bangladesh was the natural market for our products before partition. The partition has had the most debilitating impact on the economy of the entire North East region," Sangma said while addressing the 67th Independence Day celebration at Polo grounds here.
"Studies have shown that the per capita income of the region was higher than the national average before partition," he said, adding that in a globalised and liberalised economic framework, the people should explore new opportunities and take advantage of what our immediate neighbour has.
Stating that the boundary protocol which was signed by both the countries is awaiting ratification in the Parliament, Mukul said once it is done, the boundary will be delineated on the ground.
"This (boundary delineation) is a very healthy development as this would lead to better people-to-people understanding and facilitate growth of commercial and economic relations," he said.
Highlighting that the overall law and order situation in the state was relatively stable and under control in the past one year, the Chief Minister admitted that the internal security situation in the state continues to be a matter of concern.
He said a series of incidents involving militants have vitiated the security environment in certain pockets of the state for which the government "will deal with this challenge with a firm hand."
Stating that the resolution of some of the long pending issues such as illegal immigration, influx, long pending Inter-State boundary dispute with Assam, international border with Bangladesh remained at the highest priority, the Chief Minister listed out a number of measures which his government had already initiated to deal with them.
On education, the Chief Minister said that the literacy rate has gone up from 62.52 per cent in 2001 to 77.48 per cent in 2011, which is higher than the national average.
He also said that drop out rates in the elementary and secondary levels have fallen significantly between 2006-07 and 2011-12 from 30 per cent to 9.5 per cent and from 39 per cent to 11.5 per cent respectively.
On health, the Chief Minister admitted the infant mortality rate (IMR) and the maternal mortality rate (MMR) are higher than the national average which he said, is a matter of concern.
"We propose to address this with utmost priority. It is targeted to reduce IMR to below 30 per thousand live births and MMR to below 100 per 1,00,000 live births,? he said.
While the road density at 42.57 km per 100 sq km is far below the national average in the state, the Chief Minister said investment, both on expansion of road network as well as improving the quality of the network, is required.
To promote the state in tourism sector, the Chief Minister said the state government is promoting rural and village tourism to provide tourists with a personalised experience of the culture and life style of our people.
"Destination Meghalaya" will be a special focus of the state government to create new avenues of opportunity in the tourism sector, he said.