Connected North East: Building Pan India ties

The North East Region (NER), consisting of 8 states- Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura is connected to the rest of the country through Siliguri Corridor (or ‘chicken neck’) area in North West Bengal flanked by Nepal and Bangladesh.

Why is North East Region important for India?

1. NER accounts for 3.78% of India’s population and covers 7.98% of its total geographical area.

2. NER contributes 2.5% to the national GDP of India.

3. The region has strategic importance due to 2 reasons- its geographical location and its resources.

4. NER has vast resources in the form of diverse flora and fauna, several crop species and huge reserves of petroleum and natural gas.

5. NER shares 5,347 km of international boundaries with Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Myanmar and Nepal.

What is Government of India doing to improve infrastructure in NER?

1. The Government of India has sanctioned about Rs 1,90,000 crore rupees for construction 12,000 kms of road projects in NER.

2. India’s Look-East connectivity projects connect NER to ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and China.

3. National Highway and Infrastructure Development Corporation (NHIDCL), the specialized agency for highway construction is executing projects worth Rs 1,66,026 crore covering about 11,000 km of roads in NER.

4. Projects have been given to respective State Public Work Departments (PWDs), National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and Special Accelerated Road Development Programme (SARDP-NE).

5. NER has witnessed the completion of about 43 National Highways projects in the fiscal year 2018-19 by November 30, 2018.

6. The Bharatmala project, an umbrella programme for roads includes a large number of projects for the North East.

7. The Centre has approved the North East Special Infrastructure Development scheme (NESIDS) to enhance physical infrastructure in NER.

8. The 4.94 km Bogibeel Bridge is a combined road and rail bridge over the river Brahmaputra will remove communication bottlenecks to several districts of Arunachal Pradesh.

How these will help NER?

1. The new projects will transform the North East States by way of development, job creation, tourism and employment for the youth.

2. The passing of vehicles across the Brahmaputra river region will be facilitated.

Where to focus?

1. The NITI Aayog has advocated developing the region by 2022-23 for enhanced trade to the ASEAN region and other neighboring countries. It has stressed to fast-track the highway projects.

2. It has identified inadequate road connectivity as one of the major reasons for untapped resources and lack of tourism.

3. It has to expedite projects like – Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project, the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway, etc.