The GOI laying emphasis on improving connectivity in the NE: Dr Jitendra Singh

New Delhi, Jan 02: The Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh has said the Government has given a big push to a diverse range of infrastructure projects in the region.

Briefing the media after releasing the Calendar for the year 2018 of the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), Dr Jitendra Singh said the Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has laid emphasis on improving rail, road, air and inland waterways connectivity in the NER and with a host of power projects, the region is already on course to turning power surplus.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in Aizawl, Mizoram on December 16, 2017 the Centre is committed to put all the state capitals of the northeast on the rail map and is executing 15 new projects of 1,385 km length, at a cost of over Rs 47,000 crore in the region.

With the dedication of the 60-MW Tuirial hydropower project at the hands of the Prime Minister, Mizoram became the third power- surplus state in the north-east after Sikkim and Tripura. The Tuirial project, which was announced and cleared in 1998 by the then Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, is the first major central project to be successfully commissioned in Mizoram, the Prime Minister said.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has taken initiatives to strengthen regional air connectivity in the North Eastern States. A new terminal building is being constructed with an estimated expenditure of Rs 500 crore at Agartala Airport and the AAI would spend Rs 2,500 crore in North East States in next three years, AAI Chairman Shri Guruprasad Mohapatra said at Agartala on Dec.15, 2017. As many as 92 air routes connecting state capitals in the region are being planned as part of the Centre’s Udaan scheme.

Reflecting the improving regional connectivity and tourism potential, over 1.6 lakh foreign and 77 lakh domestic tourists visited Assam and the other Northeastern states during 2016, registering a 5.2 per cent increase over the previous year. Last year, the region registered a significant quantum jump of more than 15.8 per cent.

In a major boost to the Inland Waterway Transport System in the northeast, Union Shipping Minister Shri Nitin Gadkari on December 29, 2017 flagged off cargo movement on the Pandu-Dhubri route of the Brahmaputra river. Transportation of cargo on the National Waterway 2 — from Pandu in Guwahati to Dhubri along the Assam-Bengal border would reduce logistics cost and save 300-km road travel. The 891-km stretch of the Brahmaputra river between Sadiya in the easternmost part of upper Assam and Dhubri was declared the National Waterway-2 in 1988.

Five bridges would be constructed on the river to ease transportation. The bridges would connect Jorhat with Nematighat, Disangmukh with Tekeliphuta, Louit with Khablu, Numaligarh with Gohpur and North Guwahati with Guwahati, the union minister said at the flagging-off ceremony in Majuli Island in Assam. Another roll-on, roll-off (ro-ro) ferry service to transfer passengers and vehicles in large numbers will start here soon,  Shri Gadkari said.

Dr Jitendra Singh said the Northeast is all set to get India’s first-ever “Air Dispensary” based in a helicopter and the DoNER Ministry has already contributed Rs. 25 crore as part of the initial funding for this initiative. The proposal put forward by the Ministry of DoNER, he said, has been accepted and is in the final stages of process in the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation.

Dr Jitendra Singh said Arunachal Pradesh welcomed the New Year by keeping its promise of making the state Open Defecation Free. It has become the second state in North-East after Sikkim to achieve ODF status. Arunachal Pradesh has managed to do this before the deadline of October 2, 2019. The state government had cut short the national ODF target by one year and ten months ahead of the national target and set 31 December, 2017, as the final target to achieve ODF status in Arunachal Pradesh. The project undertaken under Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) saw the light of day only after the State Government extended an incentive of Rs 8,000 per toilet. This is in addition to the Centres support of Rs 12,000, raising the grant for constructing a toilet to Rs 20,000.

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