Guwahati, Feb 18 (ANI): Asserting that the recent discussions with the representatives of United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) were good, the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, on Friday said the process of dialogue is the only method for fostering greater understanding and resolving vexed problems.
Speaking after presenting the Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed Memorial Award for 2008 and 2009 and unveiling the plaque of Jica Assisted Water Supply Project for Guwahati City, Dr. Singh said: "I was happy to meet the representatives of the United Liberation Front of Assam recently at Delhi. The discussions were good and give me hope for the future. It is my firm belief that the process of dialogue is the only method for fostering greater understanding and resolving vexed problems."
Earlier on Monday evening, a delegation of ULFA leaders led by its chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa met the Prime Minister at his 7 Race Course Road residence in New Delhi for around 15 minutes.
Expressing concern over the fact that Assam has witnessed turbulent times in the recent past, Dr. Singh said: " It is to the credit of the people of this State that they have been able to successfully combat fissiparous forces. It goes without saying that peace and harmony are a prerequisite for meaningful development. I am happy that a number of initiatives have been taken by both the Central and the State Government towards this end."
"The establishment of Territorial/Hill Councils has provided a forum to address genuine needs. However, we must help these Councils to build capacities to ensure that they are able to fulfill their responsibilities in a manner, which is responsive, transparent and accountable," he added.
Dr. Singh further said: "Our society and country have a glorious tradition of tolerance and secularism. India has ever been ready to accommodate newer ways of thinking and living. The liberal outlook that defines our multi-religious and multi-cultural society needs to be nurtured and strengthened."
"I believe that it is an obligation for all of us to work in this direction. I also believe that distinguished people like the two awardees of today are a great inspiration to others to uphold the best in our heritage in terms of ideals and values," he added.
Expressing his delight after unveiling the foundation stone of the Guwahati Water Supply Project, Dr. Singh said: "I am sure that the project, being executed with financial assistance from Japan International Cooperation Agency, will benefit a large segment of the population of Guwahati."
"The project is a step in the right direction in our endeavor to ensure access to safe drinking water for all our citizens. I would expect those associated with the implementation of the project to adhere to the decided time-lines," he added.
The Prime Minister further called for strengthening of the country's urban infrastructure.
"Let us not forget that in about twenty years, nearly half the country's population will live in urban areas. It is therefore, imperative that we strengthen our urban infrastructure swiftly. The challenges of urban governance are several and need to be approached with a long term-perspective as well as sensitivity, especially where the under-privileged sections of society are concerned," said Dr. Singh.
"We also need to pursue the agenda of reforms in the urban sector with the overall objective of ensuring greater public good. Under the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission, the government of India has been supporting substantial investments towards the development of urban infrastructure. The city of Guwahati has been selected as one of the mission cities," he added.
The Prime Minister further said: "Apart from the Water Supply Project, we have also sanctioned a Solid Waste Management Project for the city. Further, purchase of 50 buses for urban transportation in Guwahati has been approved as part of the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission. It is my hope that these measures will contribute in improving the quality of life for the residents of Guwahati."
The Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed Memorial Award for National Integration is given to people, who have contributed significantly to the causes of social harmony and national integration. (ANI)