North east development assured with 10K road connectivity by 2020
The Central Government has been taking several initiatives to accelerate development work in the north-eastern region, especially to improve road and rail connectivity.
A number of infrastructure projects have been announced during the visit of union ministers in the region under their respective departments.
Union Road Transport, Highways, and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari has announced that the Centre will construct 10,000 kilometers of roads at a cost of one lakh crore rupees in the north eastern states within the next five years.
While in Tripura, Gadkari announced the construction of two new national highways to connect Tripura with Assam. He also laid a foundation stone at Gomati district for converting a 55-km-long road from Agartala to Udaipur into a double lane.
Gadkari also revealed that the government is keen to enhance connectivity between the northeast and the neighbouring countries.
“I am declaring two new national highways – one from Sabroom to Kukital in Assam which is 180 km long and the other is the Khowai to Agartala corridor that is a stretch of 55 kms. I have ordered the department to make the DPR. These highways would be constructed under Bharatmala and works would be started before December. Total expenditure for the 235 kms would be around Rs. 6,000 crore,” Gadkari said.
In Assam, Gadkari inaugurated a conference on ‘Key challenges in Highways and Infrastructure Construction in the North-Eastern Region and Use of Innovative Technologies and Materials”.
The two-day long conference was attended by Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju, Union Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, and Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma along with several other dignitaries, officials and local contractors.
The conference was organized by National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd, which functions under Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. The main aim of the conference was to build capacity of local contractors, engineers and other stakeholders, and encourage them to participate in infrastructure development work in the region.
Gadkari further said that local people should get benefit from the infrastructure work being done in the region.
“When I had come here the last time, I observed that while we are constructing roads on a large scale here, the local people from Northeast are not prequalifying to work here. My department told me that they were unable to fulfill the technical and financial norms. I said that if required the norms should be relaxed so that people in the area where so much of work is being undertaken get employment. If locals do not get contracts and work, then development is not possible,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sangma said that northeast lags behind the rest of the nation in terms of road connectivity.
“It is a very important and shared objective of all of us. We have built roads; have been building road and will keep on building roads. Innovation and technologies have been eluding this country. When we look at the road network, the connectivity, vis-a-vis the northeastern states, the Northeast is still in a very disadvantaged position, particularly when we compare with the other states within the country,” he said.
Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Bandaru Dattatreya, who was also in Assam, revealed that the Centre would seek report from Assam government on minimum wages of tea garden workers. He also announced that the government would convert employment exchange centres each in Guwahati, Shillong, Imphal and Tripura to model career-counselling centres.
“Our government’s main intention is to increase employability. Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken three major initiatives – Make in India, Skill India and Digital India. We want to concentrate on employability. Our department has to play a key role in training work force. More technical skills will give more employability,” he said.
The Central Government has been laying a lot of emphasis on developing infrastructure and bringing all-round development in different sectors to ensure that the Northeast region doesn’t lag behind other states anymore.