RANGPO (SIKKIM), March 20 – Sikkim Governor Balmiki Prasad Singh, who had a long association with Assam since the early seventies as an administrator, yesterday expressed his unhappiness at the haphazard growth in Guwahati, the premier city in the North East.
“I had visited Guwahati last year and was unhappy to see the haphazard growth in Guwahati”, he said during an interaction with a group of journalists from Assam, who were on a visit to the hill State under the banner of the Journalists Union of Assam.
He suggested that the riverfront in Guwahati should be developed to bring out the beauty of the city. “Money will not be a problem. The Centre is willing to extend all possible assistance for such developmental projects”, he stressed at his Winter residence at Rangpo in South Sikkim.
A former IAS officer of Assam-Meghalaya cadre, Singh reminisced about his posting in North Lakhimpur and Tezpur as an young officer. He also held the posts of DC, Kamprup, and Home Commissioner, Assam from 1980-82. He had another stint in Assam from 1990-92 before being posted to Union Home Ministry.
An astute public servant and administrator, the Governor played a key role in managing the post-disaster scenario following the last year’s earthquake which devastated the State. He was away from the State when disaster struck but rushed back immediately to Gangtok and took charge in the State Control Room set up to monitor the situation. “A Governor needs to play a major role in all developmental matters and crisis situations as well and I simply carried out that role”, he said humbly.
He praised the Army for its tremendous efforts in rescue and rehabilitation works in the State and specially in the North Sikkim district which was totally cut off and was the worst affected. Singh was also instrumental in getting a liberal assistance of Rs 1000 crore from Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh when he visited the State to inspect the damages.
“I just told the PM, Centre had to send the Army to liberate Goa, but Sikkim joined India on its own. The Centre needs to come forward now to help the State in its hour of need”, the Governor recalled adding “The PM asked me how much would be required and I without thinking said Rs 500 crore.” But he was surprised when the PM sanctioned an amount of Rs 1000 crore for Sikkim as rehabilitation assistance, the Governor told the visiting scribes.
A distinguished scholar and thinker, the Governor has written several books and thought- provoking articles. Among his prominent books are “Bahudha and the post 9/11 World” and “The problem of change: a study of North East India.”