Centre Plans Strengthening North-East Region With Enhanced Connectivity
The seven sister states namely Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura, along with Sikkim together constitute the North Eastern Region (NER). Northeast India is joined with the rest of the country only by a narrow land corridor and is prone to heavy rains and flooding - posing challenges for the execution of infrastructural projects. Also, the difficult terrain and security concerns - since it shares borders with other countries - are other factors that have caused accessibility and connectivity issues in the region for years.
Tourism thrives in the NER which is why enhancing the rail, road and air connectivity is the primary concern for the Indian government. Connectivity projects under the Indian government’s ‘Act East’ Policy aims at breaking these barriers and bringing India closer to China and ASEAN countries. Also, the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region undertakes development schemes and projects with a focus on the socio-economic development of these states. The North-Eastern Council (NEC), a nodal agency for economic and social development of the northeast, mentions infrastructure deficit as a key focus area in the vision NER 2020 document.
MakaaniQ brings the latest updates on the major infrastructure developments and upcoming projects that will help shape the future of NER:
Highways and road networks
The Indian government is developing road networks spanning 5,200 kilometres in the NER. Some National Highway projects and upgrades are also in the pipeline under the Bharatmala Pariyojana. Strategic projects for roads and bridges will be fast-tracked under the North East Road Sector Development Scheme (NERSDS), launched in 2015-16.
President Ram Nath Kovind, at the inauguration of a 73-kilometre National Highway from Matabari to Sabroom in southern Tripura, said that India plans to build direct road links with Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and other southeast Asian nations, under the ‘Act East’ policy. Here are some other proposed developments:
- Aimed at catalysing economic activities, the 1,559-km Trans-Arunachal Highway will internally link the state from Tawang in the west to Kanubari in the east. Built at a total cost of Rs 10,000 crore, the project will be implemented under Special Accelerated Road Development Programme (SARDP).
- Plans for the Arunachal Frontier Highway and East-West Industrial Corridor have been proposed. Some of the road stretches under SARDP will pass through landslide-prone areas.
- The Centre has approved road projects worth Rs 64.41 billion for Nagaland under SARDP.
- Up-gradation works for Tura Mankachar Road, Doimukh Harmuti Road, Wokha Merapani Road and Kawnpui Bairabi Road will be taken up.
- To tackle flooding problems, the Brahmaputra Express Highways, worth Rs 64,564 crore, will be developed. This will involve the construction of highways on the banks of the mighty river to mitigate the impact of flooding and erosion.
- After offering assistance in key projects like the Delhi Metro and Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train Project, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will provide support in Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur and Mizoram.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that 15 new rail line projects covering 1,385 kilometres will be developed across the state capitals. The Ministry of Railways is investing a sum of Rs 48,000 crore for these projects. Current Civil Aviation Minister, Suresh Prabhu during his earlier tenure as Railway Minister had expressed the government’s ambition to link the NER states with broad-gauge rail lines. A broad-gauge railway line connecting Bairabi and Sairang, under Northeast Frontier Railway zone, is being developed to connect capital cities of the north-eastern states by 2020.
Several airports of NER will soon be revamped as the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has allocated around Rs 3400 crore for the upgrade. The existing airports are seeing growth in passenger traffic and the move will involve creation of new integrated terminal building, expansion of existing buildings, runways, etc. Led by governors and chief ministers of the eight states, the NEC, is funding some of these projects.
Under the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) Phase-II, the Centre has identified twenty-two new airports and helipads in the NER which will also include few greenfield airports. This includes nine airports in Arunachal Pradesh and one each in Meghalaya, Tripura and Sikkim. Bidding and related activities for the same has already started.