NEW DELHI, Jan 4 � Projecting the North East as an attractive investment destination and setting 2017 as target year to bring all the State capitals under railway and air network besides launching several social sector projects, were some of the initiatives taken by Centre in 2010 to speed up development in the region.
With lack of connectivity posing a major hindrance in the economic growth of the region, the Centre also focused on improving the road network in the North East, particularly in the bordering areas of Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
Minister for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) said that Railways had undertaken the ambitious project to link all capital cities in the region at an estimated cost of Rs 17,000 crore by 2017.
Till now, there is rail connectivity in Assam and some parts of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland.
The Government also decided to set up a green field airport in Arunachal Pradesh capital Itanagar while another airport has been planned for Kohima in Nagaland.
Both the State capitals do not have aerial connectivity. Although most of the States have air link with major cities in the country, the network among the States was not satisfactory.
The Ministry also made concerted efforts to showcase the region as an attractive investment destination and a seven-member team of Ambassadors and High Commissioners from South East Asian countries visited Manipur at the invitation of the Ministry.
The team explored potential areas of investment and assessed the ground situation for opening international trade to South East Asian countries via Manipur.
DoNER Ministry, which in 2009 had decided to launch a dedicated regional airline for the region, failed to get any response from private airlines with those declining to do so despite subsidy offered by Government for an exclusive �intra-State� operation for the eight States.
The railway project to link the State capitals had been undertaken as proposed in the Vision Document 2020, a blueprint for overall development of the region.
DoNER followed the roadmap suggested in the �Vision Document� which identified specific goals for key sectors and envisaged an ambitious strategy to ensure overall socio-economic development of the region.
The DoNER Ministry has sanctioned Rs 703 crore to the Northeastern States since February to improve various arterial roads and finalised another project at an estimated cost of Rs 1,500 crore to build 522 km of roads in the region.
Aiming to woo NRIs to make investment in the North East, the Government will project the region as an attractive destination for business and investment in the 9th Pravasi Bhartiya Divas � the flagship event of the Overseas Indian Affairs Ministry.
The three-day event to be held here from January 7 will see participation of nearly 1,400 NRIs from across the globe.
Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi said the Northeastern States will be the partner States of the event and the Government will showcase investment opportunities in the region to the diaspora community.
�We have not been able to showcase the Northeastern States the way we wanted. In PBD we will try our best to showcase the region as a potential investment destination,� he said.
As law-and-order situation remained more or less under control in some of the troubled States, the DoNER Ministry also initiated various social sector schemes in the region like ensuring education to youngsters affected by various kinds of violence.
In September, the Ministry in its endeavour to ensure timely completion of various Centrally-sponsored projects organised a meeting of the North Eastern Council � the regional planning body of the eight NE States � where all the States were told to remove hurdles for timely completion of infrastructure projects. � PTI