NEW DELHI, April 28 - Making a strong pitch for connecting all state capitals of the Northeast by 2020, the Niti Aayog vision and strategy paper has advocated high level of funding at around Rs 6,000 crore per annum for the project.
The draft �Three Year Action Agenda (2017-2018 to 2019-2020)�, which was released on Thursday evening, said that a top priority for the next three years is ironing out the transit treaties and development of physical infrastructure between northeastern region and neighbouring countries.
NITI Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya presented the draft of the three-year action agenda for the nation�s development at the planning body�s governing council meeting here on Sunday. He said apart from the action agenda, there would be a seven-year strategy and a 15-year long-term vision that will replace the erstwhile five-year plans for the nation�s planning framework. The 12th Five-Year Plan ended on March 31.
The strategy paper also focuses on the 11 ongoing national projects. These are major rail construction programmes and ten of these projects are under way in the Northeast. These projects are now on a firm ground with accelerated funding.
The strategy paper, which has a separate section on the Northeast, dwells at length on improving connectivity between the region and neighbouring countries. It recommended that upgrade of Guwahati airport to a regional aviation hub will be an important milestone for the region and that should be expedited.
Additionally, Agartala, Imphal and Dibrugarh should be developed as intra-regional hubs by 2020 by approving projects proposals for developing hangars at the airports there. Furthermore, the state governments should collectively aim to increase the frequency of intra-regional services with this hub and spoke model by using small aircraft and helicopters.
The vision document said a key project for international connectivity is the rail link from Imphal to Moreh and further to Kalay in Myanmar. This will link the northeastern region to the Trans Asian Railway network. The cost estimate according to a survey done by the Indian Railways is Rs 5,500 crore for the Imphal-Moreh portion, while that for the Moreh-Kalay portion is Rs 3,000 crore.
The Ministry of Railways and Ministry of External Affairs should discuss and concretise further action on the project with the intention to commence construction by 2018, the paper said.
The 15-km Agartala-Aakhaura rail project with an estimated cost of Rs 967 crore will reduce the distance between Kolkata and Agartala by 1,200 km. However, further approval needs to be in place as soon as possible to put the project on fast track and complete the construction by 2020.