Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday laid the foundation stone of the Manipur Water Supply Project via video link. The prime minister called the project a “Raksha Bandhan gift” to the women of the state.

“This project will give clean drinking water to Greater Imphal and 1,700 villages in Manipur,” Modi said, according to the Hindustan Times. “It will provide a lifeline to these people.” He added that it will help women in one lakh families in the state.

The prime minister said the project was designed with the cooperation of local panchayats, which he called an example of “decentralisation”. “The Manipur Water Supply project will also generate employment for thousands of people,” Modi said.

The Manipur Water Supply Project aims to provide freshwater household tap connections to homes in the Greater Imphal Planning Area – 25 towns, and 1,731 rural habitations covering 2,80,756 residences in 16 districts of Manipur. The N Biren Singh-led state government has set a goal of “Har Ghar Jal” (water in every home) by 2024.

The prime minister said the North East has the potential to become India’s “growth engine”, PTI reported. He noted that peace has now been established in the region. While road blockades in Manipur no longer occur, violence has abated in Assam after decades of conflict, he added. In Tripura and Mizoram too, the youth have abandoned the path of violence, Modi said.

The prime minister said the government is making a lot of efforts to improve connectivity in the North East. He added that that even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, such work has not stopped. Modi also listed the various schemes the Centre has adopted for Manipur during the Covid-19 crisis.

“The North East is battling twin challenges – Covid-19 and floods,” he said. “Many people have to leave their homes due to the flood. I assure you that everyone is with you in this difficult time.”

On the pandemic, Modi said the country has to keep fighting until a vaccine is found. “Till the vaccine comes, where we have to fight vigorously against the coronavirus, development works also have to be carried forward with full force,” he said.

The launch of the water supply project was attended by Chief Minister N Biren Singh, Governor Najma Heptulla, and Union ministers Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and Jitendra Singh. N Biren Singh thanked the Centre for its help in the development of Manipur.