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North-East to become India’s connecting hub with East Asia

PM Narendra Modi said work on inland waterways is going to make a major impact in the coming years as India connects with south east Asia

India and Bangladesh continue to work closely on the Indo-Bangladesh protocol route across the Hooghly river to connect the Brahmaputra and the Barak river. Efforts are also on to make Assam and the North East the hub of India's cultural and business relations with other East Asian countries.

This was stated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi today as he launched ‘Mahabahu-Brahmaputra’ and laid the foundation stone of two bridges in Assam, carrying forward the campaign to connect Assam and North East.

The PM marked the launch by inaugurating the Ro-Pax vessel operations between Neamati-Majuli Island, North Guwahati-South Guwahati and Dhubri-Hatsingimari. He also laid the foundation stone of Inland Water Transport (IWT) Terminal at Jogighopa and various tourist jetties on River Brahmaputra and launched digital solutions for Ease-of-Doing-Business.

Modi lamented that not much work related to connectivity on Brahmaputra has been done earlier because of which connectivity within Assam and in other areas of the North East has always been a major challenge. He said that the various projects have now been fast tracked to reduce the distances geographically, ultimately resulting in physical and cultural integrity of the whole region.

The Prime Minister said many bridges like Dr. Bhupen Hazarika Setu, Bogibeel Bridge, Saraighat Bridge are making the life of Assam easier now. He said that this also strengthens the security of the country and provides great convenience for our soldiers.

Majuli has got Assam’s first helipad and is getting the fast and safe road options as long pending demand is being met with the foundation ceremony of the eight km long bridge connecting Kalibari with Jorhat.

“This is going to be a bridge of convenience and possibilities”, said Modi.

Similarly, the 19 km long bridge from Dhubari to Fulbaari in Meghalaya will improve connectivity in Barak Valley and will reduce distance between Megahalaya, Manipur, Mizoram and Assam. The Prime Minister pointed out that today, the distance between Megahalaya and Assam is about 250 km by road; it will be reduced to just 19-20 km.

Talking about the ‘Mahabahu-Brahmaputra’ programme, Modi said that this will strengthen water connectivity by Brahampurta water through port-led development. The three Ro-Pax services which were launched today makes Assam a front-runner state to be connected with Ro-Pax services at this scale. This, along with the four tourist jetties will significantly improve Assam’s connectivity with the North East.

The Prime Minister said work on Inland waterways is going to make a major impact here. He said recently an agreement with Bangladesh to improve water connectivity has been made. By connecting the North East with the rest of India, dependence of the region on the narrow connecting part would be reduced. He added Jogighopa IWT Terminal will strengthen an alternative route to connect Assam with Haldia Port and Kolkata through a waterway. Bhutan and Bangladesh cargoes at this terminal and cargoes at Jogighopa Multi-modal logistics park would get facilities for movement to different places on the Brahmaputra River.

The Ro-pax service between Majuli and Nemati would reduce the distance from about 425 km to just 12 km. On this path, two ships are operated which would transport about 1600 passengers and dozens of vehicles at one go. A similar facility launched in Guwahati would reduce the distance between North and South Guwahati from 40 km to just 3 km.

The Prime Minister said e-portals are being launched today for the users to get accurate information. The Car-D portal will help in collating real-time information on all the cargo and cruise traffic data of the National Waterway. It will also provide information related to the infrastructure of Waterway. He added that GIS based India Map Portal, would help those who want to come here for business.

The first data center of the North East will also be built in Guwahati. It will serve as a data center hub for eight states and the IT service based industry, BPO ecosystem and start ups in the North East including Assam would be strengthened through e-governance.

The Prime Minister said that the government is working with the vision of sabka saath, sabka vikas and sabka vishwas in the country including in the North East. He also noted the cultural depth and richness of the Majuli region, Assamese culture and local biodiversity. He listed steps like establishment of Cultural University, Biodiversity Heritage site status to Majuli, heritage circuit in Tezpur-Majuli-Sivasagar, celebrations like Namami Brahmaputra, Namami Barak.

He also expressed the hope that today’s connectivity related launches will open new avenues of tourism and Assam could emerge as a major destination for cruise tourism.

"We have to work collectively to make Assam, the North East a strong pillar of Aatmnirbhar Bharat," concluded Modi.