NEW DELHI, July 13 � Improving connectivity and expanding border trade with neighbouring countries are the top priorities for newly-appointed DoNER Minister Paban Singh Ghatowar for overall development of North Eastern states, reports PTI.
Ghatowar, 61, took charge of the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region today and said his immediate priority would be to carry out a thorough assessment of implementation of various centrally-sponsored schemes in the eight states.
�I will concentrate on improving connectivity to the region as transport infrastructure is key to economic development. I will also examine how to expand the border trade with neighbouring countries,� he told PTI.
Ghatowar, a five-time MP from Dibrugarh was made a DoNER Minister with independent charge in the reshuffle of the Union Council of Ministers yesterday. He replaced Cabinet Minister B K Handique who was axed.
The tribal leader said he will hold extensive consultations with Chief Ministers of all North Eastern states to formulate a broad policy frame-work for overall development of the region.
�We are a nodal agency. The schemes will have to be implemented by the States. So, taking the Chief Ministers on board is very important,� he said, noting that lack of connectivity is a major hindrance in overall growth of the region.
In an effort to improve connectivity, the Railways has undertaken an ambitious project to link all capital cities at an estimated investment of Rs 17,000 crore by 2017. Till now, railway network is available in Assam and some parts of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland.
Although Ghatowar identified improving trade ties with neighbouring countries as one of his top priorities, he said the region is a �sensitive� area and a cautious approach would be required to opening up more border trade points.