GUWAHATI, June 8 –
Former President of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam has expressed the view that one should not go for construction of mega dams in highly seismic areas and a blend of development and safety must be maintained.
In an interview with The Assam Tribune, conducted through e mail, Dr Kalam, who has been interacting with students from all over the world for years, said that the students of the North East region are comparable with any youth from India and abroad.
Following are the excerpts from the interview:
Assam Tribune: You have been interacting with the students of the entire country and abroad for years. What is your opinion about the students of the North East region? Are they comparable to the students of other parts of the country?
APJ Abdul Kalam: I have been interacting with over 11 million youth both within the country and abroad, including the youth from north-eastern region. The youth of north-eastern region are comparable to any youth from India and abroad. They are intelligent, creative, committed and take-up their work with passion.
AT: Very few students from the North East are selected for Indian Administrative Service, Foreign Service and Police Services. What are the reasons for this? What will be your advice to the students of the region to improve their performance not only for selection in the administrative services but also for overall development of the region?
Abdul Kalam: Probably your observation is fully correct. There are number of students from North-East studying in north-east, Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad have been selected for IAS, IFS, IPS and other civil service examination. All that is required for success in this examination, is to have a clear aim, while they are doing 12th class or graduation, so that they can systematically acquire knowledge through hard work and succeed.
AT: Despite having rich natural resources, the North East region is still lagging behind the rest of the country. What according to you are the main reasons for the underdevelopment and what should be done to deal with the problem? (We know that it is not possible to spell out the steps need to be taken for development of the region in a few words. But we shall be grateful if you please spell out few suggestions).
Kalam: For development of the region, we need to improve the road, rail and air connectivity. Secondly, we have to create number of PURA complexes (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas) by clustering the villages and provide them with electronic and knowledge connectivity. This will enable creation of rural enterprises with bias on the market out-side the north-eastern region. Also, there must be mechanism to create waterways in such a way, it improves the water management and also provides opportunities for inland water transportation. Such an approach will definitely provide an impact for the development of all the north-eastern states.
AT: Flood and erosion are considered major problems for Assam. According to a conservative estimate, at least eight percent of total land of Assam has already been eroded away. Is there any solution to the problem? What, according to you, should be done to deal with the problems?
Kalam: Land erosion is a common problem found in areas where you have large rivers. The solution to the problem is to arrange large scale plantation of trees on the banks of river and other water bodies. This will not only prevent erosion but also create an eco-friendly atmosphere since each tree absorbs 14 kg carbon-di-oxide and release us 20 kg of oxygen per year. In addition, we can think of creating large number of canals within the state which can not only improve the irrigation potential, but also act as reservoirs during heavy floods.
AT: The vast water resources of Assam have not yet been tapped so far. What should be done to harness the water resources?
Kalam: I have provided the answer in the answer to previous question.
AT: Is claimed that construction of mega dams is not feasible in the North East because of the fact that it is a highly seismic zone. What is your opinion in this regard?
Kalam: That is the reason why I have suggested creation of number of canals rather than going for dams. It is true that in seismic region, we should not go for mega-dams. As far as possible, we should go with the natural environment, create a harmonious blend between development and safety.