Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday said the Centre is implementing various rail, road and air connectivity projects worth Rs 1,34,200 crore in the northeast.
Addressing the 'Natural Allies in Development and Interdependence' conclave in Guwahati, she said the Union government has been pumping in huge money in developing a number of infrastructure projects throughout the region.
"We are carrying out 20 railway projects worth Rs 74,000 crore for 2,011 km, which are spread across the northeast," Sitharaman said. The Centre is also developing 4,000 km of roads in the region at a total cost of Rs 58,000 crore, she added.
"There are 15 ongoing air connectivity projects in the northeast, costing around Rs 2,200 crore," the finance minister said. She, however, did not mention the completion period of these projects.
Sitharaman said the number of Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Routes have been increased to 10 from the existing eight. "These Protocol Routes are reviewed every five years. There was a review in May 2022, she said.
The Union minister also said work is being carried out to develop the National Waterways on the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Barak rivers. She said India and Bangladesh have 50 riverine systems, which can be leveraged for all types of transportation purposes as the cost of travel through water is the least compared to air, road and rail networks.
"The government is further 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," Sitharaman said. She said the entire area between Sadiya and Dhubri in Assam along the mighty Brahmaputra river is being developed for improved connectivity.
"We are building a multimodal hub on the Brahmaputra in Guwahati. This includes a ship repairing port at Pandu, four tourist jetties and 11 floating terminals. All these will bring in wonderful connectivity," the finance minister said. The Eastern Waterways Connectivity Transport Grid, once completed, will offer seamless connectivity not only between the northeast and rest of India but also in the sub-continent, she said.
"This will offer 5,000 km of navigable waterways. The Indian government together with the World Bank is offering big connectivity solutions by removing bottlenecks," Sitharaman said. The central government is also developing several projects focusing on power transmission and distribution, mobile network, 4G and broadband connectivity in the northeastern region, she said.