Guwahati, June 13: The northeast of India has seen significant progress on various fronts in the past seven years. The vibrancy and the diversity of the region as well as its unique strengths, if channelized, would help in achieving its true potential. This has been the Modi government’s endeavor in the last seven years.
Earlier, there was both an emotional and a physical disconnect that was deliberately maintained over the years for inexplicable reasons. However, the Narendra Modi government has moved with a sense of direction and determination the region was rarely exposed to.
From highways to waterways, from peace accords to logistics hubs, Modi govt has ushered in a new era of peace and prosperity in northeast India.
— narendramodi_in (@narendramodi_in) June 13, 2021
From infrastructure bridges to waterways, from the promotion of organic agriculture to creating logistics hubs, the last seven years have witnessed legacy issues being resolved with meaningful peace accords in a respectful and dignified manner. This journey is a small step towards the meaningful development of India’s northeast, whose potential was held back for a long.
Opening the Waterways to Prosperity
The economic impact of connectivity, much underappreciated earlier, is starting to become visible for the region.
Waterways are transforming into engines of growth. With the National Waterway, 2 along the Brahmaputra under development, the operationalization of the Ro-Ro service between Dhubri and Hathsingimari, Neamatia and Kamlabari, and Guwahati and North Assam has sharply reduced travel time. Similarly, the dredging exercises between Ashuganj and Zakiganj (295 km) and Sirajganj and Daikhawa (175 km) in Bangladesh definitely benefit Assam, with improved flows allowing ease of navigation.
Access being secured to Mongla and Chattogram Ports of Bangladesh for movement of goods, the new routes of access between Agartala and Srimantpur in Tripura, and Dawki in Meghalaya and Sutarkandi in Assam also allow the region to benefit from excellent foreign relations that serve strategic purposes. Cruise movement commenced between India and Bangladesh by private operators of both countries. With this, the potential of tourism, freight movement, and opening up of new markets for the northeast’s goods is beginning to see the light of day.
Improving Road Connectivity and Harnessing Logistical Potential
Roads are always critical in hilly terrains, a fact that never goes unnoticed under the Narendra Modi government. Critical roads like the 110 km of National Highway No. 44 connecting Jowai along Meghalaya-Assam border stand completed today, boosting access for economy and security, while work is progressing at a steady pace towards building and improving 2,319 km roads under the ₹15,643 crore Arunachal Pradesh Package for Roads and Highways.
Of course, even in other places like Assam, it must be highlighted that 610 km of 667 km Silchar-Srirampur road network via Lumding-Daboka-Nagaon-Guwahati in Assam stands completed. This includes the much-needed 18 km Guwahati bypass necessary to decongest the city. Also, 440 km of highways in Mizoram, 567 km in Nagaland, 229 km in Sikkim, and 370km in Tripura are under various stages of implementation.
Tapping into the improving connectivity, the government launched India’s first Multi-Modal Logistics Park at Jogighopa in Assam. With the commencement of this park, the region will serve as a hub for inter-modal freight-handling facilities, fully equipped with state-of-the-art machinery to make it a model for the rest of the country.
Air or Rail, Never Far Away
While the plan to connect all northeast capitals by rail is on, there are several enablers being completed to achieve this long-standing demand, such as the Lumding-Hojai rail line doubling project (45 km) in Assam, and the Agartala – Sabroom new rail line project. Agartala’s connection with Akhaura is yet another dividend of the impressive neighborhood ties that India has nurtured so that the northeast develops rapidly among other reasons.
Air connectivity is also seeing improvements in the right direction. With the Dimapur-Imphal, Guwahati-Dimapur, Aizawl-Agartala flights initiated under the RCS-UDAN 3.0 scheme, the regional connectivity allows better integration of the region for trade and cultural ties as well. Similarly, the Kolkata-Shillong flights launched help bring the North-East closer to the other regions.
Air connectivity is not just being restricted to India. Plans are afoot to transform Guwahati into a regional aviation hub, with new flights to Singapore, Bangkok, Kathmandu, Dhaka, and Yangon in the works from the government under its UDAN International initiative.
Addressing the Question of Livelihoods in the North-East
With conflicts in the northeast at an all-time low, the time is ripe to promote initiatives that help people earn livelihoods with dignity. 97 Processing and Packaging units benefitting 1,094 villages are being set up across the region. Microfinance schemes launched in the region are reaching out to 7 lakh beneficiaries across the region, of which 95% are women, thus helping them to build a source of income for themselves.
To push for the bamboo industry’s development in the region, 16 cane and bamboo clusters have been developed across the region. These centres impart skill and provide much-needed exposure to workers along with equipment and working spaces. Also, financial assistance to 720 projects with total disbursements of ₹311 crores undertaken by North Eastern Development Finance Corporation Ltd. has been achieved to develop various sectors of the economy, including the MSME sector, agriculture, and food processing units.
Given the region’s special relationship with organic farming, efforts are afoot to nurture the traditions of the region. GI registration has been achieved for a variety of agricultural produce in recent times, such as Black rice of Manipur, Naga Cucumber of Nagaland, and Dalle Chilli of Sikkim, adding value to the region’s agricultural produce. Further, to enable market competitiveness for modern times, the government has facilitated the registration of 3 Farmer Producer Organizations (FPO) with another 36 FPO undergoing registration.
The Modi government remains committed to the region’s development and helping it reach its true economic potential. With comprehensive measures across the board, the region will lead India’s efforts to achieve progress for everyone.