Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman chants connectivity and commerce mantra for NE

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman singled out 5Cs – commerce
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman chants connectivity and commerce mantra for NE

 Cooperation and connectivity are keys to progress: CM


GUWAHATI: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman singled out 5Cs – commerce, culture, connectivity, conservation and capacity building – for the overall development of the North-eastern Region as focus areas. She spelt out the pumping of funds for infrastructure projects in the Northeast for its better connectivity with South East Asia.

Delivering her special lecture at the Special Plenary Session of NADI 3/Asian Confluence River Conclave 2022 today, the Finance Minister said that "the 5 Cs essentially capture all crucial areas for the Northeast". She said that Ashtalakshmi as referred by the Prime Minister desperately needed better connectivity to benefit the region through commerce.

"Asian Confluence" in collaboration with the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India and Government of Assam organized the two-day Conclave at Guwahati on May 28 and 29 with the aim of promoting sub-regional cooperation in the BBIN, ASEAN and BIMSTEC regions.

The Finance Minister said that she would like to stress what the Government of India had done for the past seven/eight years to boost the 5 Cs. "I think this edition of NADI actually can take many things forward for the development of the Northeast. The Prime Minister is giving importance to Neighbourhood first policy and Act East policy, and this focus has shown positive results."

The Finance Minister said that the focus was on funding for infrastructure development in the Northeast to make the region realize that 'it is India's gateway to the entire South-East Asian nations'.

Connectivity through waterways is another area that received much importance from the Finance Minister. "The government is developing the National Waterways-1 on the Ganges, NW-2 on Brahmaputra and NW-16 on Barak. In the last seven-eight years, we have attempted to provide better connectivity. We are developing the entire area between Sadiya and Dhubri in Assam along the Brahmaputra for improved connectivity. The Northeast has better connectivity with the rest of India via Chittagong Port in Bangladesh," she said, and added, "We are building a multimodal hub on the Brahmaputra in Guwahati. It includes a ship repairing port at Pandu, four tourist jetties and 11 floating terminals. All these will bring in wonderful connectivity. The Eastern Waterways Connectivity Transport Grid, once completed, will offer seamless connectivity not only between the Northeast and the rest of India but also in the sub-continent. It will boost tourism and trade in the region. It will offer 5,000 km of navigable waterways. The Indian government and the World Bank are offering big connectivity solutions by removing communication bottlenecks."

Referring to the major projects for the development of the Northeast, she said, "each of these nine projects is a signature project".

The nine projects are – Moitri Setu between India and Bangladesh over river Feni; Bogibeel bridge over the Brahmaputra reducing the distance between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh; 15 ongoing air connectivity projects costing over Rs 2,200 crore; 4,000 km of roads in the region spending Rs 58,000 crore; development of National Waterways-2 (Brahmaputra) and 16 (Barak); 20 railway projects worth Rs 74,000 crore for 2,011 km; development of power transmission and distribution infrastructure including rural electrification; Bharat Net Project for Broadband Connection up to Gaon panchayat level and seamless 4G mobile connectivity along the national highways in the Northeast. She mentioned projects being executed by the North-Eastern Council.

Apart from this, she also spoke on the development of the India-Bangladesh Protocol Road and India-Myanmar Kaladhan Transit Transport Project. "It will be a big achievement when completed," she said.

Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that "better cooperation and connectivity with judicious use of natural resources in a far-sighted and ecologically sound manner is the key for overall prosperity of the BBIN, ASEAN and BIMSTEC regions".

Underlining the importance of connectivity for boosting economic progress, Chief Minister Sarma said that enhancing connectivity should not be looked at as building bridges, roads or waterways and airways alone. He said there is a need to go beyond physical connectivity infrastructures and equally focus on data corridors, education and tourism, and energy and cultural links.

He also sought cooperation from countries of the region to strengthen bamboo value chains in the Northeast and stressed opening borders for peace and prosperity by setting up Border Haats.

He further said that the Centre and the State Government were doing all to give tangible shape to connectivity with the ASEAN and Bangladesh through roadways, railways and airways. He said that riverine connectivity in the state is witnessing a remarkable change, and under a World Bank project, the state government is modernizing ports and vessels.

Minister of Act East Policy Affairs Chandra Mohan Patowary, Finance Minister Ajanta Neog, Chief Secretary Jishnu Baruah, Chairman Governing Council of Asian Confluence MP Bezbaruah, Executive Director Sabyasachi Dutta and a host of others were also present.

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