Northeastern states gateway to Southeast Asia: Modi

Shillong, May 27 (IANS) Terming the northeastern states as the gateway to Southeast Asia, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India is opening up both road and rail routes to its neighbouring countries to boost to their economic development.

He said that his government was focusing on reducing the region’s isolation by improving all-round connectivity through road, rail, telecom, power and waterways besides its development through the pro-active “Act East” policy.

“If the western region of the country can develop, if other regions of the country can develop, I see no reason why the northeast region of the country cannot develop,” Modi said at the 65th plenary session of the North Eastern Council attended by governors and chief ministers and union Development of North Eastern Region Minister Jitendra Singh.

“Northeast region is very important to us for strategic reasons and it is my conviction that we have to bring this region at par with the other developed regions,” he added.

The prime minister said a specialised highways construction agency – the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation – has been set up for the northeast and was implementing 34 projects covering a length of 1,001 Km at a total cost of over Rs.10,000 crore.

He also said that the Indian Railways has commissioned about 900 km of broad gauge in the last two years, leaving only about 50 km meter gauge lines to be converted in 2016-17, while a a 132 km part of third alternative connectivity route – New Maynaguri-Jogighopa – has also been commissioned.

“The railways have undertaken a major expansion in the region at a cost of around Rs.10,000 crore. In November 2014, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya were put up on the rail map. Agartala has also been connected with broad gauge line. We are on the way to ensure that all the northeast states come on the rail map soon,” he said.

Modi said the government has implemented an improved internet connectivity project for the region in collaboration with Bangladesh which will make available 10 GB of seamless alternate bandwidth for the region.

The government was also making a heavy investment in power transmission projects covering all the eight states at a cost of around Rs.10,000 crore to ensure power to more areas, he added.

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