Guwahati, August 15: The 74th Independence Day was celebrated peacefully in the Northeast Saturday, where the states held official functions in a low-key manner due to Covid pandemic.
Hoisting of national flag and other itinerary at the state-level programmes were held in the minimum presence of dignitaries and the attendees were made to adhere to Covid protocols like social distancing and wearing face masks.
Almost all the Chief Ministers talked about coronavirus crisis and in their brief speeches mentioned efforts made by the respective governments to fight pandemic that has taken a heavy toll of human lives.
Some chief ministers used the occasion to announce incentives and new programmes to give a boost to economic activities that have taken a beating during long pandemic spell.
Delivering his last Independence Day speech before Assembly polls next year, Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal announced a slew of incentives for agriculture sector such as setting up of rice cluster, mills, cold storages and milk processing units.
Sonowal said farmers have utilised the lockdown in a very productive way and their products have been exported to Dubai, London, Abu Dhabi and Hong Kong among other markets.
The government will distribute 1,000 mini trucks to the youths and self help (SHGs) groups in order to smoothen the communication between paddy fields and markets, he added.
Besides,milk processing units will be set up in every district under Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) mode and first three units will be set up in Morigaon, Sonitpur and Bajali, he said in his address.
He highligted efforts made to promote fish farming and booming business by the meat and egg traders even during pandemic.
The chief minister also declared that the government has decided to increase the upper age limit to 40 years from 38 years for all the Grade III and IV posts.
In neighbouring Meghalaya, chief minister Conrad K Sangma announced Rs 14,515 crore “RESTART MEGHALAYA MISSION” with an aim to revive and give a push to different developmental activities that were brought to a standstill by COVID-19.
“Farming and farmers lie at the centre of our rejuvenation plan. The economic slogan today is localisation, not globalisation and we in Meghalaya strive to become self sufficient in production and marketing of agri-allied sectors,” Conrad said addressing a sparingly attended Independence Day celebration at the Polo grounds here.
In Nagaland, chief minister Neiphiu Rio said commemoration of the 74th Independence Day of the country is a reminder that 23 years of ceasefire and political dialogue is more than enough time to reach a logical conclusion on the Naga political issue.
The Nagas long for genuine peace for decades, and there is a deep desire for a solution that will pave the way for all round progress and development, he said, while expressing that a political solution that is honourable and acceptable to the Naga people will usher in an era of faster economic growth and greater employment opportunities for the Naga youth.
He stressed that the Naga society should stand as one, speak as one, and give a final push to collectively achieve a settlement and remove the shackles that burden the Naga society once and for all.
Stating that COVID-19 pandemic has posed multiple economic challenges to the state, Rio said the crisis also showed the vulnerability of Nagaland in terms of food sufficiency.
He emphasised on the need for creating employment opportunities for thousands of returnees, including students and workers, who had suffered layoffs in their primary location of employment.
In Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu exhorted the people to adapt to the ‘new normal’ like use of hand sanitisers,wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing to check COVID-19 spread in the northeastern state.
In Tripura, chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb said there is no shortage of medicines and personal protective equipment (PPE), amid surge in coronavirus cases in the state.
Sikkim joined the nation in celebrating the Independence day at a low-key scale due to outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking at the Independence day function, chief minister Prem Singh Tamang paid tributes to the 20 soldiers who were martyred in Galwan Valley in Ladakh in May this year.
In Manipur, government observed the 74th Independence day celebrations at Ist Manipur Rifles complex with chief minister N Biren Singh lauding role of police and civil officials in fighting the novel coronavirus.
Urging all including the opposition and civil bodies to focus on dealing with and containing the spread of Covid-19 in the state, he said, “stringent steps will be taken up against private and government staff who denies admission and necessary treatment.”
In Mizoram, chief minister Zoramthanga said the state is facing twin challenges- the pandemic and earthquakes, and urged the people to follow precautionary measures.
He also asked them to adhere to health advisories to curtail the spread of novel coronavirus. (PTI)