Assam Governor Prof Jagdish Mukhi advocated for connectivity such as airway, roadway, railway, waterway and i-way which hold the key in furthering India’s relations with the South East Asian region.
While delivering the valedictory speech during the second ASEAN-India Youth Summit at Taj Vivanta in Guwahati on Tuesday, Governor Prof Mukhi said that the Northeast has emerged as a critical bridgehead of India’s foreign policy with ASEAN and BBN countries.
In order to make the country’s Act East Policy a success, India’s connectivity with ASEAN countries through the Northeast need to be given a boost.
The Governor said that there is an urgent need to launch direct flights between the capitals of ASEAN and BBN countries from Guwahati. He said that under UDAN scheme, substantial progress has been made to start direct flight services between Guwahati and Dhaka and Bangkok.
Moreover, efforts are on to start direct flight services between Guwahati and Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Kathmandu and Yangoon.
For the road sector the Governor emphasized on the development of mainland India-Bangladesh-Northeast corridors. He said that the development of such corridors, like Agartala-Dhaka-Kolkata, Silchar-Dhaka-Kolkata and Shillong-Dhaka-Kolkata hold tremendous importance.
He further said that the development of road access to Chittagong port is also important for the growth of the region and for ensuring smooth access to Chittagong port, the 612 km road from Guwahati to Chittagong via Shillong and Dawki should be developed as a four-lane road.
Underlining the importance of connectivity through waterways, the Governor said that River Barak has already been dredged to make it navigable for starting trade activities between India and Bangladesh. He said international trade between the two countries through Chittagong Port will usher in a new paradigm of development between the two countries.
The Governor also drew the attention of all the delegates on the importance of rail connectivity. He said that steps should be taken to improve railway connectivity with Bangladesh. The railway line to Chittagong within Bangladesh traverses very close to the Agartala – Sabroom railway line within the Indian territory in Tripura. If this link is made operational, it will create new vistas in bilateral and multilateral relations.
The 15 km long Agartala – Akhaura railway line linking Indian Railways with Bangladesh Railways has already been developed which can be commissioned for the benefits of the region as a whole, Prof Mukhi added.
The Governor also harped on improving digital connectivity for economic progress of the region. Considering the geographical closeness of the north eastern region with Bangladesh, the internet gateway stationed at Cox Bazaar Bangladesh can be used to provide internet connectivity to all the capital cities of North East.
Finance Minister Dr.Himanta Biswa Sarma who was present on the occasion said that north eastern states are connected with the South East Asian region and therefore they share several similarities. With more than 2075 ethnic groups, the North East is the demographic museum of the country and shares common agenda of the ASEAN countires. He also said that the Act East Affairs Department has also been formed in the state to develop people to people relation with the ASEAN country.