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Centre accords priority to NE surface transport

By R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, Jan 24 - The Government of India has accorded priority to improvement of surface transport in the North East region and an ambitious project has been launched to connect all the district headquarters of the region in the next three years.

Meanwhile, efforts are also on to improve the connectivity to the region through Bangladesh.

Talking to The Assam Tribune, highly placed sources in the Government of India said that according to the Centre, lack of adequate infrastructure is one of the main reasons for underdevelopment of the region and that is why, stress has been laid on improvement of connectivity. Sources said that as per the plan, efforts would be made to improve connectivity inside the region as well as to the rest of the country and to the South East Asian countries.

As the first step towards improvement of connectivity within the region, a plan has been chalked out to connect all the 88 district headquarters of the NE States by at least two-lane roads within the next three years. A plan has also been mooted to set up an integrated infrastructure development body and the Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari has been asked by the Prime Minister to monitor the connectivity issues relating to the region.

Sources said that the Centre has directed the concerned agencies to expedite the highway expansion projects, while additional funds would be released to expedite the construction of the Trans-Arunachal Highway.

Improving connectivity through Bangladesh is vital for the development of the region and for that, the Government of India has started providing funds to the neighbouring country for improving its infrastructure. In addition, India has also provided funds to Myanmar to improve its part of the India-Myanmar-Thailand Highway, which would link the NE region to the South East Asian countries.

The Government of India has also started chalking out plans to improve rail connectivity in the region and studies for connecting all the State capitals of the region by rail is on. The Government is also planning to take rail head to Moreh in India-Myanmar border so that a big boost can be given to improvement of trade to the South East Asian countries, sources added.

Meanwhile, in addition to improvement of connectivity, the Government had decided to lay stress on power generation and in the first step, efforts would be made to utilize gas available in Tripura.

Creation of skill development centres, a sports university in Manipur, research centres for research on natural resources including plants and herbs, etc, are also in the pipeline, sources added.

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