GUWAHATI, Nov 29 � Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said that improving connectivity in the North East is one of the priorities of the Central Government. He also announced that the Government has decided to allow hundred per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) for development of the infrastructure of the Railways.
Formally inaugurating the Mendipathar-Guwahati railway line and laying the foundation stone of a railway line in Mizoram through video conferencing from the Railway Stadium Maligaon, the Prime Minister said that in addition to road, railway, waterways and air connectivity, the Government is also planning to include the North East in the Information Technology Highway. He said that the optical fibre network would be extended to the North East for development of the IT Highway. As the students of the North East learn English from a very young age, they would be able to take full advantage of the IT Highway.
Modi said that the Look East Policy would be transformed into Act East Policy by the Government of India and development of infrastructure is the key to development of the region. He pointed out that one highway transformed the economy of South Korea and similarly, development of infrastructure would change the economy of the North East. That is why, in the first Railway Budget of the present Government, an amount of Rs 28,000 crore was earmarked for the North East. The eight states of the North East have the potential of becoming the eight �Lakshmis� of the country, he added.
The Prime Minister said that most upper middle class people of the country visit abroad at least once a year. But with proper development of infrastructure, the states of the North East have the potential for becoming a major tourist destination. He said that efforts would be made to develop rail and road connectivity with the neighbouring countries like Myanmar and South East Asia.
Modi admitted that the Indian Railway is functioning with hundred year old infrastructure, he said that only introduction of new trains and adding coaches to the existing trains would not help in improving train services. He said that there is need for modernising the railways and upgrading technology. He said that the Government has decided to allow 100 per cent FDI in development of railway infrastructure. The Government has also decided to privatise some railway stations and around 10 to 12 stations would be privatised in the first phase. Malls and hotels would be set up in the vacant spaces near the stations.
The Government has also decided to establish four railway universities so that the Indian Railways gets trained manpower.
Addressing the function, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi requested the Prime Minister to introduce bullet trains in Assam. He also said that the Centre should take immediate steps for improving connectivity.
The function was attended among others by the Governors of Assam and Meghalaya and the Chief Ministers of Mizoram and Meghalaya.
Earlier, Modi was received at the Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport by Chief Minister Gogoi, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and senior leaders of the BJP. This is Modi�s first visit to the region after assuming office as Prime Minister.
Modi will address the meeting of the heads of the police forces of all the states of the country tomorrow morning, which will be followed by a rally of the BJP functionaries.