What Modi 2.0 means for Assam?
GUWAHATI: The “Chowkidar” of India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has proved all analyses wrong with his landslide victory in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has won 352 seats out of which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), by itself, has swept 303 seats thereby dominating the alliance and now would go on to form a stable government at the Centre.
The mandate is being hailed as Modi 2.0 by all and where Assam is concerned, Modi 2.0 covers a gamut of issues from Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 to Schedule Tribe status to 6 tribes, development in all sectors including infrastructure, education, living standards and many more which the state can expect to witness over the next five years.
State BJP executive member, Rajkumar Tewari, talking to G Plus said, “The members of Parliament (MPs) who won the elections from Assam because of Narendra Modiji should work for the people honestly or else they will spoil Modi’s reputation and lose people’s trust.”
He expressed that over the next five years the state will witness many developments but initially the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) issue should be dealt with sensitively by the BJP. “The indigenous people of the state should be convinced that if Hindu migrants are brought in, the rights of the indigenous people will be given importance with reservation in all sectors and the migrants would not be able to snatch away the lands belonging to the Assamese people,” said Tewari.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is now comfortably placed for the next five years to complete his unfinished agenda, which he had started in the previous term. There are hopes that Startup India would get a big boost now and entrepreneurs would sprout across the country to create much-needed employment. Though there were initiatives like Advantage Assam taken by the government here, the results of such initiatives are yet to be seen. The problem that the Prime Minister and his finance minister and industries minister need to try and tackle immediately is the lack of appetite for fresh project investment in the private sector. The state, as yet, does not have a decent industrial policy in place and it is expected that in the next five years the Centre along with the state government will improve the industrial growth in the state.
In January 2019, to calm the tempers in Assam in the wake of the CAB controversy, the Centre had promised ST status to 6 communities. “Before the five year term of Modi 2.0 ends, the promises should be fulfilled,” said Tewari.
Prominent Guwahati-based social activist, Ajoy Dutta, talking to G Plus, said that though all the decisions of the Modi government in the last five years were not perfect, the next five years will be better as the government is further stable now. “Modi mentioned about middle class people in his victory speech which was not done before,” said Dutta. He expressed that middle class and lower middle class people will gain in the next five years as employment opportunities will increase.
Dutta hailed the demonetisation move as, according to him, the move has destroyed the builders’ malpractices in the state. He said, “98% money involved in real estate business used to be in black before demonetisation.” According to him, the real estate business is witnessing an unprecedented recession in the state and it will, in the future, improve the situation for the buyers.
Narendra Modi, in February 2019, had claimed that the interim budget for 2019-20 has benefited the housing sector immensely by way of providing incentives for home buyers as well as tenants.
The budget move to exempt people earning up to Rs 5 lakhs from income taxation will benefit the housing sector as the surplus will find its way into the sector, Modi had claimed. Therefore it is expected that by 2022 everyone in Assam also will have a house.
Modi 2.0 and Guwahati
If it is a boon that Guwahati was chosen as one of the first 20 Indian cities to be developed as “smart”, the authorities responsible for completing the task are clearly not smart enough. In the next 5 years it is expected that the Smart City project will get a boost and newer initiatives will be taken to better and speed up the project.
A source in the Guwahati Development Department (GDD), talking to G Plus said, “There are instructions by the Centre and the state to the authorities to complete all the projects and plan new ones to improve the infrastructure of the city.”
Guwahati Smart City Limited (GSCL) – a special purpose vehicle (SPV) and a subsidiary company formed with equal stakes between the Centre and state governments to execute the smart city mission in Guwahati – has failed to address the key issues of the city.
The nine most-hyped projects under the Smart City Mission are the development of Borsola Beel, development of the Bharalu River, development of the Mora Bharalu River, the Brahmaputra river-front development project, conservation and restoration of Deepor Beel, erection of the National Flag atop the Gandhi Mandap hillock, an integrated traffic management system, installation of 30 drinking water ATMs and 30 public toilets and conversion of all streetlight posts into solar smart poles. The residents of the city mostly rate developing the Bharalu as the most important issue and the erection of the National Flag atop Gandhi Mandap hillock as the least. But till now the GSCL has only erected the National Flag at the Gandhi Mandap hillock which again has flaws in the construction of the pillar.
The ropeway project resumed in 2016 after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in Assam and sources in Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) revealed that after one month Guwahatians would be able to commute to North Guwahati by the ropeway.
In the next five years a 1600-metre 6-lane bridge is expected to connect Guwahati with North Guwahati to be constructed at an estimated budget of Rs 1,925 crores, said a source in GMDA.
The feasibility study of the metro rail project in Guwahati is already complete and soil testing for the purpose is underway. “In the next 5 years, 30% of the metro rail project will be completed,” said the GMDA source.
The Assam government, in 2018, prior to the Advantage Assam summit, had inked a deal with the National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC) for setting up a 65-storey twin tower trade centre in earthquake-prone Guwahati. The agreement for building the trade centre on a 32-bigha plot of land was dubbed as a dream which cannot be fulfilled. But a source in industry & commerce department, talking to G Plus said, “In the next five years this dream could come true.”
Lastly, a feasibility study is being carried out for the promised railway track elevation project. The project was undertaken after a story by G Plus was escalated to the then union railway minister, Suresh Prabhu, who sanctioned the project. Work on the railways tracks that dissect Guwahati causing severe traffic snarls on a daily basis and its subsequent elevation could well see the light of the day over the next 5 years.