Imphal: Union Minister of State for External Affairs & Education Dr RK Ranjan stated that the Government of India has been making significant efforts to improve infrastructure and promote economic development in the North East and as a result, the region has seen tremendous progress in recent years, and there remains even greater potential for further economic growth and development.
Dr RK Ranjan maintained that the Government of India’s efforts to improve infrastructure and promote economic development in the North East are closely tied to India’s Act East Policy.
He stated that the region plays an important role in the Act East Policy as it serves as a gateway to the countries in Southeast Asia countries and beyond, therefore the government has been working to improve transportation infrastructure, including airports, railways, and highways, and to increase digital connectivity in the North East region.
The PM-DevINE scheme, for example, has helped to give momentum to infrastructure projects in the North East. Additionally, the government has been working to improve connectivity within the region, with the aim of connecting all of the North East State capitals by rail. Air connectivity is also seeing rapid improvements and these are not just restricted to creating air links within India. There are plans in the pipeline to transform Guwahati, the capital of the State of Assam, into regional aviation hub, with new flights to Singapore, Bangkok, Kathmandu, Dhaka and Yangon, he stated.
These developments have opened up a host of new investment opportunities. The region offers a wealth of natural resources, a young and
dynamic population, and a rapidly growing consumer market. As the region continues to develop, there will be more and more opportunities available in the North East for Indian and foreign investors to take advantage of, the Union Minister asserted, inviting Japanese companies to explore the potential for investments in the North East India.
Reiterating that the two countries have a long history of cooperation in this region, he stated that the Act East Forum set up by the two countries to promote economic development in the region is a key platform for facilitating this cooperation.
Under the Forum, various ODA projects in the field of Connectivity, New and Renewable Energy, Forest Management and Biodiversity Conservation, Urban Development and Healthcare are ongoing. Apart from ODA loan projects, there are also Technical Cooperation projects underway, mainly for capacity building in various sectors, he elaborated.
Dr RK Ranjan conveyed that during the 14th India-Japan Annual Summit held on March 19, 2022, a new ‘Initiative for Sustainable Development of North Eastern Region of India’ was announced.
This is an over-arching framework for enhancing cooperation in new areas besides connectivity, including healthcare, agro-industries, and disaster management. An important part of this new initiative is a programme called Initiative for Strengthening Bamboo Value Chain in the North East with the objective of developing the region as a hub of innovation and design for bamboo-based products in collaboration with Japan, he added.
Observing that the cooperation between India and Japan in the Nort East region is an important aspect of its Special Strategic and Global Partnership, the Union Minister exuded confidence that by working together, the two countries can achieve a lot more than it can alone.