The national leaders of India have not been making any change in their evaluation on the Northeast – its people and its natural resources – for the past three hundred and fifty years. For Prime Minister Narendra Modi the Northeast India is what it was for Mirzumla some three hundred and fifty years ago. They had/have their eyes set on the natural resources of the region, not on the woes of the people living in the region.

It was the other day when Prime Minister Narednra Modi came to Nagaland during the Horn Bill Festival and termed the region as a ‘natural economic zone’. The first BJP Prime Minister of the nation, Atal Behari Vajpayee, had also termed the Northeast as the ‘power house of the country’. Now it is crystal clear as to why Vajpayeeji had termed the region as the ‘power house of the country’. It was during that visit Vajpayee had conceived the idea of setting up a number of hydroelectric power projects in the region. When viewed from that angle, Modiji is not lagging far behind of Vajpayeeji. Upon return of Modiji to Delhi from Nagaland, Union Power Minister Piyush Goel took the job of putting an end to the logjam of the construction work of the Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Project along the Assam–Arunachal Pradesh border at Gerukamukh. Though a decision was taken to form an experts’ committee to look into the issue of feasibility of the power project during the recent talks between the Union ministry and the organizations of Assam, including the KMSS, AASU, AATS, AJYCP and others, the Centre mainly has its eyes set on exploitation of power potential of the region for its use elsewhere in the country. Even before taking any clear–cut decision on the 2000–MW Subansiri Lower Project, the Centre taking the decision of going ahead with the 3000–MW Divang Valley Power Project, that too, without conducting any public hearing as yet clearly smacks of what the Centre actually intends to. The people of Tinsukia and Dibrugarh in Assam, who are supposed to be at the receiving end in the event of any disaster involving the project, have already registered their opposition to the move by staging street protests.

There is nothing unusual in exploiting the natural resources of the region for use in elsewhere in the country. However, what the people of the region want is that the Centre should also be responsible enough to mitigate the problems afflicting the region. The situation has come to such a pass that while the rich natural resources of the Northeast like its power potential lure the Centre, its woes like floods and erosion continue to dissuade New Delhi. Had the Centre been responsible enough to solve the problems of the region, the long–standing demand of Assam for the declaration of floods and erosion in the state as a national problem would have been met by now.

Thus it is imperative on the part of the Centre to see that the Northeast makes stride at the same pace with the rest of the country. If the region has the potential to illuminate rest of the country, the rest of India should also reciprocate the gesture by making the Northeast stride at the same pace with them.