Inaugurating a five-day conference of the North East Region Commonwealth Parliamentary Association here, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Thursday said that India cannot develop without development of the northeast.Addressing the conference at the Manipur Legislative hall, Mahajan asserted that the north-east is very important for India and has a strategic dimension since it is the country's frontier guard."India can never develop without first developing the northeast," she said, adding, "There will be good connectivity with Southeast Asian countries through Myanmar by promoting trade and tourism. The northeast states shall be benefited."She also underlined the importance of peace and development for the overall growth of the region. The Act East Policy has a cultural and security dimension, she said."Manipur has a rich cultural heritage and is the birth place of Ras Lila.
This state has also produced sportspersons of international fame," she said.Manipur Deputy Chief Minister Y. Joykumar in his keynote address said the north-east states face many common problems, including landslips and mudslides. "There is no adequate power for the industrial units. Except for Assam, the private sector is in a pathetic condition," he added.He also pointed out that most of the states practice shifting cultivation despite its "harmful impacts". Joykumar wondered "why there should be sometimes misunderstanding among some sections since the people are of the same ethnic group". Manipur Assembly Speaker Y. Khemchand spoke about the state's rich cultural history on the occasion.Khemchand and NERCPA chairman A.T. Mondol announced that the next conference would be held in Arunachal Pradesh. Speakers, Deputy Speakers and several elected members of the north-east are attending the conference, which will conclude on June 18.The conference is being held on the theme 'North East and Look East Policy'.Security was beefed up to maintain law and order during the conference.The conference was held in Tripura last year.