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Northeast is the Powerhouse of India’s cruise towards self-reliance : Sarbananda Sonowal

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NEW DELHI : The Union Minister of Ports, Shipping & Waterways and Ayush, Shri Sarbananda Sonowal termed the Northeast as the powerhouse of India’s cruise towards self-reliance here. The Union Minister addressed a press conference regarding ‘Development of Northeast Region’ since 2014 here.

Shri Sonowal highlighted the key role played by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi led Government to bring the Northeast India to the forefront of India Growth story, with sincere and concrete effort towards sustained peace & security, focussed approach to uplift the marginal sections of the society for them to lead a life of dignity, innovative policy framework enabling a positive environment for trade and commerce to prosper led to the historic rise of northeast since 2014.

Speaking on the occasion, he said, “Under the dynamic leadership of the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji, the Northeast is the Power House of India’s cruise towards self-reliance. Given the transformational connectivity that northeast has experienced in last 9 years, the region has now become the potential hotspot of trade and commerce. Modi ji realised the strategic importance of northeast and enabled an environment of economic resurgence with promising commerce with the ASEAN, BBIN group of countries.”

Speaking about the peace effort for sustained development in the region, the Minister said, “The Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji has always met the brethren of northeast with utmost respect and with a deep sense of acknowledgement for them as equal partners of nation building. Due to this humane approach of Modi ji, the insurgency has come down drastically leading to near 100% drop of civilian casualty in 2023. More than 8,000 insurgents has surrendered in last nine years. A concerted effort to scale down Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) has led to complete withdrawn from Tripura and Meghalaya, significant reduction of area under the act in Assam, Nagaland and Manipur. With historic peace accords with Bodos, Naga, Karbi, Tripuri and Bru & Adivasi, the disgruntled communities have been brought to the mainstream through dialogue, resulting in sustained peace that the region was hoping & longing for decades. This is the ‘Modi Ki Guarantee’ as decades old differences were addressed head on with dignity and respect to find amicable solutions. This has not only boosted economic activity but also led to reduction in migration for employment and fuel further development. The other result is reduction of travel time between northeast and other states with railways lines already reached Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Manipur and Meghalaya, apart from the Assam. Since 75 years of independence, this was made possible only in the last nine years of Narendra Modi ji’s leadership to bring about transformational transportation for and within the region. Modi ji has visited the Northeast 64 times since becoming the Prime Minister, which is the only instance and highest for any PM of India ever. This shows the commitment of Modi ji for the people of northeast to bring them to the mainstream & make them active members in the process of nation building towards a self reliance Atmanirbhar Bharat in 2047.”

The newly launched PM-DevINE scheme, for NER, by the Prime Minister in October, 2022 with 100% Central funding, having a total outlay of ₹6,600 crores for the 4-year period from 2022-23 to 2025-26. In FY 2022-23, 11 projects worth ₹1,503 crores have been selected for sanction. This has opened up tremendous opportunities for this region.

With the ‘Act East Policy’ launched under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India has witnessed significant advancement driven by government’s investment and development initiatives. 

Modi Government has spent ₹1,040 crores on development of waterways which has resulted in operating of 20 Waterways in NER which was only ‘ONE’ till 2014. With the initiatives taken in last 9 years the cargo handled via Indo Bangladesh Protocol route (IBPR) has increased to 170%. It is also noteworthy that the first Ship Repair facility, with an investment worth ₹208 crores, in NER is being developed through Hooghly-Cochin Shipyard Limited (HCSL) at Pandu along River Brahmaputra.

This year, as a major development of Cruise tourism in Brahmaputra, MV Ganga Vilas, completed the longest river cruise route in the world by travelling from Varanasi to Dibrugarh via Bangladesh covering around 3,200 km in 51 days.

Further to this, the development of 6 ferry terminals at Kurua, Bahari, Dhubri, Guijan, Ghagor & Matmora in Assam worth ₹310 crores will cater to the transportation needs of commuters, which will ease the current bottlenecks of transportation.

Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways (MoPSW), under its Sagarmala programme, has taken up projects worth more than ₹1,000 crores for the development of North-East states.

In comparison to UPA-2 (2009-14), there has been an increase of 370% in average annual budget allocation for NER. Prior to 2014, only Guwahati (Assam) was connected to the rail network in the North Eastern region. Today, under ‘Capital Connectivity’ project, Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh) and Agartala (Tripura) have now been connected.

During this last 9 years, pioneering steps have been taken in the NER which has enabled people of this region to cherish many facilities for the first time in this area. 

In 2022, the first Goods Train reached Rani Gaidinliu railway station, Tamenglong in Manipur. Also, the first Leased Parcel Cargo Express Train (PCET) travelled from Azara in Guwahati, Assam to Vasco-da-Gama in Goa. In 2023, the first electric train reached Meghalaya. Interestingly, the newly commissioned Agartala – Akhaura railway project, linking Bangladesh and the North-Eastern states of India will cut down the time between Kolkata and Agartala significantly.

NER has also seen many infrastructural developments during last 9 years. One such is the construction of Bogibeel Rail-cum-Road Bridge over River Brahmaputra near Bogibeel with link lines on north & south banks (Length–73 km) — in the state of Assam, was completed in December, 2018 with an estimated cost of ₹5,920 crores.

Highlighting the achievements the Union Minister said, “Since 2014, the length of the National Highways in NER has increased from 10,905 Kms to 15,735 Kms resulting an increase of 45%. In the year, 2009-14 around 181 road construction works were done resulting 2,778 KM of road and in 2014-19 around 394 road construction works were done resulting 5,520 KM of road.”

Under the, North East Special Infrastructure Development Scheme (NESIDS), 145 projects worth ₹3,392.99 crores have been sanctioned for the development in the North Eastern States.

There is a record growth in the number of airports in NER. The number of airports has increased to 17 in 2023 as compared to 9 in 2013, with 3 international airport now as compared to 1 airport then. The traffic movement has also increased by 113%.

North Eastern Region Power System Improvement Project (NERPSIP), under Ministry of Power, has recently got its revised estimates of ₹6,700 crores for implementation of various projects in NER, except Arunachal Pradesh, which is targeted to be commissioned by January 2024.

A North East Gas Grid has been conceived at an estimated cost of ₹9,265 crores which covers 1,656 Kms across all 8 States. A bio refining plant at a cost of ₹3,250 crores has also been setup in Assam.

In the education sector, the Modi Government has spent ₹21,151 crores. Since, 2014 Government has established 843 schools and up-skilled 25,64,628 teachers. Not only at school level but at higher education level, the govt has established 8 new medical colleges, 2 new IIITs (Manipur and Tripura), 1 new IIMC (Mizoram), 1 new AIIMS (Assam), and 1 new Sports University (Manipur).

Government has also spent ₹31,794 crores in the health sector which includes approval of 19 state cancer institutes and 20 tertiary care cancer centres. The first All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in the North east is now operational at Changsari near Guwahati.

Since 2014-15, ₹ 37,092 crores have been sanctioned for various projects. The Subansiri Hydro Electric Power project (2000 MW) being built at a cost of ₹ 19,992 crores is expected to bring huge development to the region. 77 lakh households have been electrified including 30 lakh households under ‘Saubhagya Yojana’. As many as 5,790 villages have been electrified under ‘Deen Dayal Upadhayay Gram Jyoti Yojana’.

To improve telecom connectivity in the NER, ₹ 4,360 crores have been spent since 2014. More than 12,690 Gram Panchayats are being connected via Bharat Net project. BSNL has taken 20 Gbps connection from Bangladesh to enhance internet connectivity in the region. There are now 1,000 4G towers and 5,600 villages are connected.

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