Advancing India’s Act East policy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced his government’s package of 90,000 crore for the Northeast that will be used to spur better connectivity and infrastructure in the region. The decision comes ahead of the India-ASEAN Summit that is scheduled for January 25, 2018 and the state elections in Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura and Mizoram next year.
Addressing a public rally in Shillong, Mr Modi spelt out the government’s proposed initiatives in the region. “Over the next 2-3 years, an investment of about Rs 60,000 crore is proposed under the Special Accelerated Road Development Project (SARDP) in the North-East and an investment of Rs 30,000 crore under Bharatmala is proposed for development of national highways in North-Eastern States,” he said. He also declared a 271-km two-lane national highway that will connect the East and West Khasi and Garo Hills to the hilly capital.
A 60-MW Tuirial hydropower project was inaugurated by the PM in Mizoram, which, according to the PM, would soon emerge to be the third power surplus state in the North-East after Sikkim and Tripura. “The Northeast, including Mizoram, can become carbon-neutral like neighbouring Bhutan. We must take a pledge to make Mizoram carbon-negative by 2022, when the country celebrates its 75th Independence Day. It can become the new identity of the Northeast. The states can also follow the example of Sikkim, which is fully organic. The Centre will provide all help,” Mr Modi said at the inauguration.
A better integrated Northeast is a prerequisite for the success of India’s ambitious connectivity projects with Southeast Asian states. In the recently concluded India ASEAN Connectivity Summit in New Delhi the focus was on transforming the links between the North East and ASEAN region by changing the transport corridors into economic corridors by developing manufacturing zones around them.
With its government installed in Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, the BJP has an enormous task in rescuing the region from its glaring infrastructural deficit. Around 4,000 kilometers of national highways, for an amount of over Rs 32,000 crore and 15 new rail line projects of nearly 1,400 kilometers length for about 47,000 crore are lined up.
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