Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday highlighted the inseparable links of the Brahmaputra with Assam's life, livelihood and culture and said it is not just a river but the manifestation of the state's ethnic diversity and harmonious coexistence.
Virtually launching a series of development initiatives for road, waterways and digital connectivity named 'Mahabahu Brahmaputra', Modi especially mentioned the late musician Bhupen Hazarika and said along the banks of this mighty river, grew the culture and civilisation of Assam.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari were among those who attended the event at Majuli.
Modi said 'Bard of the Brahmaputra' Hazarika's immortal song 'Mahabahu Brahmaputra Mahamilanar Tirtha, Koto Yug Dhori Aahise Prakashi Samanyar Tirtha' (Expansive Brahmaputra is a pilgrimage of harmony, for years altogether this river continues to manifest the meaning of assimilation) is the true reflection that the river nurtured the harmonious coexistence of the multitude of ethnic communities of Assam.
"The Brahmaputra is not just a river, it is the manifestation of the great saga of Northeast's ethnic diversity and the region's harmonious coexistence," he said.
The prime minister said over the years, many things have changed, however what has not changed is the Brahmaputra's countless blessings in the form of diverse religious, societal and cultural influences on different ethnic communities living on both banks of the river.
"This river is in fact the nerve-centre of the state's possibility, potentiality and prosperity," he said.
However, Modi said, the irony is that instead of considering the Brahmaputra as 'Assam's Pride', all the years since independence the river was treated as 'Assam's Sorrow' due to floods and erosion caused by it.
But, Modi said, contrary to prevailing perception about the Brahmaputra, his as well as Sarbananda Sonowal governments since coming to power made sincere attempts to realise the river's innumerable blessings on the people of the state and its potentiality for growth of Assam's economy.
"Therefore, I feel immensely delighted to initiate very significant projects today which are an endeavour of our government to maximise the potentiality and possibilities of the river Brahmaputra thereby giving further push to the development journey of the state," he said.
The projects include construction of India's longest bridge (Dhubri-Phulbari), a bridge connecting island district Majuli with mainland, Ro-Pax ferry services and modernisation of local vessels.
The prime minister also highlighted the government's focussed attention for the development of Majuli, the country's largest river island, and said the government was committed to preserve Majuli's unique culture, its ecology and protect it from erosion and connect it with mainland.
Modi said he understands that the people of Majuli while taking pride in their culture, identity and existence aspired for a life with advanced connectivity network, best civic amenities, better healthcare, educational opportunities and an accessible and responsive government which could realise their dreams and fulfil their expectations.
"Considering this, Majuli has always been a focused area for our government at the Centre and in the state. That is why all these years we have made committed efforts for realising the growth aspirations of the people of Majuli," he said.
Modi said he was happy to say that there is a remarkable change in Majuli -- be it road infrastructure, healthcare facilities, academic opportunities or governance, change is visible everywhere in the island.
Congratulating Sonowal for his committed efforts as a representative of Majuli and also as the chief minister for bringing about this rapid change.
"I appreciate the fact that Sarbananda Sonowal-led Assam government immediately after coming to power upgraded Majuli into a district thereby making it India's first island district," he said.
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