Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi said that infrastructure, in all its forms, is a catalyst for development, as the government is committed to promoting the development of Assam and Northeast by strengthening the fundamentals for robust infrastructure.
Speaking at the inaugural session of North East Infrastructure Development Conclave for the development of physical connectivity and integrated urban development for Northeast, Mukhi said that Government of India is very liberal in investing in infrastructure to eliminate service backlogs of North East with special emphasis on rural areas.
He said that since a well-planned infrastructure enables established businesses to expand their production levels and encourage small businesses to enter the market, both Central and State governments are making concerted efforts to put in place a robust infrastructure for physical connectivity in the areas of air, water, internet and land transport.
To drive his point home, the Governor said that in the current railway budget, the Centre has allocated nine per cent of the total budget for the Northeastern states. This proposed outlay, the Governor informed includes a number of projects for laying new tracks, doubling of railway lines in the region including the newly proposed doubling of 381 km long Lumding-Tinsukia-Dibrugarh line at an estimated cost of Rs 3810 crore.
Moreover, works are taking place for electrification of the railway line in Northeast Frontier Region. “Also, by 2022, all the three states namely Mizoram, Manipur and Sikkim will be connected by railways,” the Governor retorted.
As for the condition of national highways is concerned, the Governor said that the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has conceived of extensive national highway projects to give a boost to the region’s physical connectivity.
Giving a snapshot of different projects going on in the region, Governor Mukhi said that a host of projects involving old national highways namely 37, 37A, 40, 44, 51,52B, 54, 61, are at different stages of their implementation.
The four-lane bridge over the Brahmaputra planned in Dhubri district once completed will shorten the distance between the cities of Dhubri and Phulbari by 203 kilometres. He also informed that the Ministry of Road Transport along with NHAI is preparing plans to iron out details of the project.
“Moreover, construction of four new bridges over the Brahmaputra namely Majuli-Jorhat, Dhakuakhana-Tekeliphuta-Disangmukh, Gohpur-Numaligarh and one near Tezpur are at different stages of their implementation,” the Governor added.
Highlighting the sequel of measures being undertaken in Northeast for bringing the region closer to the rest of the country, the Governor said that under UDAN scheme 12 airports across Northeast are in operations. “The LGBI Airport in Guwahati in the last five years experienced major revamp including a new state of the art terminus being completed to accommodate the increasing air traffic in the city,” he said.
At present, the airport handles as many as 70 fleets on a daily basis. “Moreover, seamless digital connectivity has been in use in the region by liberalizing its cyberspace as India and Bangladesh signed an agreement for using unspent bandwidth available at Bangladesh’s Cox Bazar in Chittagong to bring in the revolution not only in the northeast but also some mainland states,” the Governor said.
Mukhi also said that Assam is nurtured by the greatest rivers of the world, the Brahmaputra and Barak. Both rivers along with their many tributaries have huge potential for river transport, tourism and industry.
He also stated that Inland Waterways in Assam received a boost in the last five years. The Budget 2020-21 announced that the 890 km Dhubri-Sadiya connectivity will be done by 2022. Moreover, steps have been taken to revamp the existing national waterways namely National Waterway 2 and 16 on the river Brahmaputra and Barak respectively, the Governor said.
Assam is the largest among 8 Northeastern States of India with a population of 33 million and an area of 78 thousand square kilometres, there is an urgent need for strengthening its physical infrastructure.
Mukhi also said that in the face of growing urban population and rising urban infrastructural needs, solutions like planning newer modes of transportation systems especially for congested areas, going vertical to accommodate the increasing population becomes the need of the hour.
The Governor, therefore, urged upon the private parties to join in the infrastructure projects and implement them on public-private-partnership mode.
He also asked the CII, the organizer of the summit and other stakeholders to come forward and become a force-multiplier for creating physical connectivity to give a boost to integrated urban development in Assam as well as in other parts of Northeast.