Guwahati, Aug 21: Noting that several projects along river Brahmaputra are in the pipeline, Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Saturday exuded confidence that business prospects in the northeast region will improve with the development of waterways.
The central minister for ports, shipping and waterways also asserted that Assam's progress has been fast-tracked after the BJP-led NDA government came to power at the Centre in 2014 and the coalition headed by the saffron party assumed charge in the state in 2016.
"My aim is to increase the quantum of import and export from the region. We are working on boosting connectivity via the Brahmaputra, Barak and other major rivers of the northeast so that business prospects of the region can also improve, Sonowal said, addressing a press conference at BJP state headquarters here on his first visit to Assam after being inducted in the central cabinet.
He pointed out that the region had direct access to sea ports prior to the Partition of the country, but as it became landlocked after Independence, business suffered.
"But we shall once again have access to Chittagong port in Bangladesh. We are working with Myanmar on the Sittwe port. Both Barak and Brahmaputra rivers will be connected once again to these ports and it will give business activities a much-needed push.
"There are many projects for the Brahmaputra in the pipeline. We will announce it later, Sonowal said, without divulging the details.
The Sadiya-Dhubri stretch of Brahmaputra in Assam, spanning 891km, was declared as national waterway no. 2 in 1988.
Sonowal, who kicked off BJP's outreach programme 'Jan Ashirwad Yatra' in the state during the day, also stressed that northeast can make advancements in the fields of Ayurveda and traditional medicines, and said that the AYUSH ministry, also headed by him, will explore the region's potential in these sectors.
The former Assam chief minister further noted that the Narendra Modi-led government has been focussing on the development of northeast since the very beginning. Criticising the Congress regimes at the Centre, he alleged that the party harboured a step-motherly attitude towards northeast, due to which development took a backseat in the region.
Lauding the work being undertaken by incumbent Assam chief minister and his successor Himanta Biswa Sarma, who completed 100 days in office on Friday, Sonowal said, "The new government has doubled the pace of growth that we had set off in 2016." Earlier in the day, the Union minister was welcomed at the airport here by top BJP leaders, including the CM and the saffron party's state president Bhabesh Kalita.