NEW DELHI, Nov 9 � With the focus on �Acting East� instead of �Looking East�, India is looking at drafting a blue print for the North-east ahead of the commissioning of the trilateral highway project considered the gateway to South East Asia via the North-east.
Briefing newsmen ahead of the East Asia and ASEAN summits, which will be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Myanmar next week, Secretary (East) Anil Wadhwa said on Saturday that the focus is on how to generate economic hubs in the North-east itself, so that it gets prepared for linking up with the outside world.
And one of the primary requirements in this is to develop the highways, also to make sure that the railheads are within reach of the highways, and that goods can be then brought to the railhead and on to the highway. Also, the highway between the existing portions in the North-east and to the border, which is going to be opened up, that is the Moreh-Tamu border, it is very important that, this stretch is also ready.
�We need to also work upon things like customs formalities, work on the soft infrastructure. And for the trilateral highway a trilateral group between Thailand, Myanmar and India has been formed which is looking at about five or six aspects on how to make this trilateral highway viable and to make sure that there is enough tonnage which can be carried on the trilateral highway so as to make it more economical,� the Secretary (East) said.
Of course the coordination between the agencies, which look after the development of North-east, the shipping lines, the companies as well as the infrastructure related companies and government agencies, all have to work together in this because there should be no duplication of efforts, he said.
�I think it is a good beginning because some very important ideas have been thrown up and over the course of the next few years that kind of a blueprint for North-east would definitely emerge. In fact, in the North-east itself, there have been regular seminars and meetings that have been held, in which Ministry of External Affairs has also taken part, to give the perspective of connectivity from the outside and what is actually required in the North-east for that. Those preparations are on,� he said.
�As far as the trilateral highway is concerned, the Myanmar Government requested us for a realignment of the trilateral highway, which happened about three years ago. The realignment was asked for precisely because of the fact that the security situation in certain areas through which the original trilateral was to pass was not very stable. Of course overall the security situation in the country has improved quite a bit since then. But we have an alternate alignment which has been approved by India, Thailand and Myanmar in the trilateral context,� Wadhwa said.
�This year we are taking an �Act East� emphasis to the 12th ASEAN-India Summit. And we would highlight the deep roots of our shared civilizational heritage, also reinforce the common strategic political and economic perspective between ASEAN and India, and also discuss the next steps after implementation of the Plan of Action for 2010-2015. That is because by next year we will have to have a new Plan of Action for the next five years. This summit, therefore, assumes a lot of importance because of that,� the Secretary said.
The Prime Minister and ASEAN leaders will review different aspects of our strategic partnership and also share their vision for the future as to what they want to do with each other. The meeting will also provide an opportunity for Prime Minister to emphasize the importance that India Investments from ASEAN in the last eight years have totalled USD 27.9 billion, and Indian investments in ASEAN have been USD 32.4 billion.