President heaps praise on 'beautiful' Shillong

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Mawphlang (Meghalaya), Oct 22 (UNI) President Pratibha Devisingh Patil today urged the people to keep Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, clean, and maintain its heritage, beauty, healthy environment and goodwill towards each other.

''I am very happy to be in the beautiful state of Meghalaya, the 'abode of the clouds'. It was always my desire to visit your state,'' the President said, after laying the foundation stone of the Greater Shillong Water Supply Scheme (Phase III) atop a hill surrounded by pine trees here.

''Cities, which are people-friendly, are built when they are nurtured and cared for by its inhabitants, the local authorities and the government over the years. To keep cities clean each person can make a contribution,'' Ms Patil, who arrived here this morning on a two-day visit to Meghalaya, said.

Conveying her ''warmest greetings'' to the ''friendly people'' of the hill state, the President observed, ''Shillong has grown from its early beginnings as a small village to become by 1972 the capital of the then newly formed state of Meghalaya.'' Ms Patil said Shillong is one of the most admired state capitals in the country and one of the leading hill stations of India, which attracts many tourists every year and assured water supply will be a boon for the tourist infrastructure here.

''I am equally delighted to be in your beautiful capital, Shillong which lies surrounded by sacred hills and nestled between tall pine conifers and pineapple shrubs,'' she said.

Stating that Shillong is also well-known as an ''educational hub'' of the North-Eastern region with a number of prestigious schools, colleges, institutions and NEHU located here, the President said, ''These educational institutions - medical, management and technology - must focus on research, with the aim to make Shillong one of the technical and research hubs of the region.'' Noting that festival tourism is attracting attention, Ms Patil said, Shillong still holds great potential for generating revenues from tourism. It has a rich cultural life and a tradition of holding fairs and celebrating festivals.

''Festival tourism is attracting attention as visits during these times give the visitors an opportunity, apart from enjoying the scenery and the local food, to know the cultural background of the people,'' she noted.

UNI RRK DPM KLC1511

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