The Assam Government has opened the Act East Policy Department to ensure the implementation of Act East Policy in a time-bound manner. The Act East Policy Department will facilitate an environment for investment and rapid industrialization in the state.
The Geographical Location of the North Eastern Region (NER) stands itself as the most favorable location to focus on the implementation of India’s Look East Policy which is stated to be India’s vision. The entire North Eastern Region is the gateway to South East Asia. Therefore, the development of the communication infrastructure of the northeastern region is very important so that it can be linked to the neighboring South East Asian countries of Bangladesh Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Bhutan & China.
Major infrastructure initiative needed to connect the NE Region to the South East Asian neighbors. Ministry of Road Transport & Highways in recent time has initiated/undertaken many major National Highway development projects in the North Eastern Region. Early completion of these projects will be much helpful towards materialization of the Look East Policy.
The major initiatives taken up in the Highway Sector of the State are outlined below:
Development of NH 153 (Stillwell Road):
Re-opening of the Stillwell Road to link NER to Kunming, the capital City of Yunan Province of China, through Myanmar will greatly boost economy and trade activities from the region to those southeast Asian countries. NH-153 forms part of this famous Stillwell Road in NER.(from Lekhapani to Jairampur- 23.00 km) & improvement of the stretch to 2 lanes with Paved shoulder (10m Carriageway) has already been completed under SARDP-NE. The government of India may consider the development and commissioning of this road from NER to China with the necessary collaboration with Myanmar. Work on re-alignment of NH 37 & NH 38 for proper road link between Dibrugarh and Lekhapani has also been under implementation. Also, 4-Laning of NH-37 from Dibrugarh to Numaligarh has been taken up by NHIDCL.
Development of ASEAN Highway:
The road connection to southeast Asian countries is also available along with the ASEAN Highway network that can be accessed from the existing NH-39 & NH-36 of Assam through DIMAPUR –KOHIMA-IMPHAL to reach Myanmar at the border town of Moreh. This route assumes a lot of significance as it has been envisaged to connect Thailand, Laos, Vietnam Cambodia, Malaysia, and Indonesia along with the same highway network. This will definitely change the prevailing status of the economic development of the country. Of the above, 71 km of NH-36 (from km 91/0 to 162/0) has already been developed to two lanes with paved shoulders under SARDP-NE (Phase-A). The route has already been declared as Asian Highway No.1.
Connectivity to Bhutan:
The NH 152 from Assam has a direct link to the Royal Kingdom of Bhutan. The NH 152 (38 km) has been developed as a two-lane highway with a Paved shoulder under SARDP-NE (Phase-A). Therefore, there is ample scope for establishing good road connectivity from Bhutan and beyond. Recently two new National Highways viz NH No.127(C) & NH No.127(D) has been declared which will connect East-West Corridor with Bhutan.
Connectivity to Bangladesh through NH-51, NH-40, NH-151, NH-44:
NER has 3 (three) distinct national highways connecting the capital city of Bangladesh i.e. Dhaka. The routes are:
GUWAHATI-JORABAT-SHILLONG-DAUKI-SYLHET-DHAKA –This route stretches along NH 37& 40 totaling 467 km
GUWAHATI-JORABAT-SHILLONG-KARIMGANJ-SUTARKANDI-SYLHET-DHAKA –This route stretches along NH 37, 40,44&151 totaling 657 km
GUWAHATI-PAIKAN-DALU-DHAKA –This route stretches along NH 37, 51 totaling 261 km in the Indian Territory only, of which the entire 22 km of NH-51 (Assam portion) has already been developed to 2- lane with paved shoulder by PWD under SARDP-NE.
The development of the above routes will be very beneficial for International Trade and Commerce, and will also create new opportunities.
Connectivity with the Republic of China through Arunachal Pradesh:
The NH-52 in the north bank of Brahmaputra from BaihataChariali to Dhemaji is a major road connecting Arunachal Pradesh. This Road can be further developed and extended through Tibet, Republic of China through TAWANG of Arunachal Pradesh.
The proposed 4-lane connectivity of Itanagar from East-West Corridor near Nagaon is in advanced stage of implementation. DPR and feasibility report have already been submitted to the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways. This route could be utilized to explore the possibility of establishing a road link directly to China. Feasibility in this regard may be assessed.
Connectivity of NER with the rest of the country:
The following points also need urgent attention so that development initiatives related to LOOK EAST policy have a better impact on all layers of society.
East-West Corridor is on the verge of completion. There is another route of NH-31 from Boxirhat (Assam Bengal Border) connecting the entire North East. These two National Highways can adequately and efficiently connect all potential river routes through the mighty river Brahmaputra.
To rationalize, simplify, and modify the rules & procedures hindering the free flow of traffic on roads and highways to ensure hassle-free movement particularly at interstate borders and at international Borders.
Urgent steps should be taken for connecting all the State Capitals of NER with 4-lane roads.
Gauge conversion to Murkakchelang on the North Bank is nearing completion. BG connectivity already exists up to Tinsukia in Upper Assam. Gauge conversion in Lumding – Badarpur Section is under construction. These Railway routes can be improved with a double line facility to cater to the present-day demand for the smooth movement of goods and services.
River route through the Brahmaputra may be developed with river Ports at suitable locations like Guwahati, Silghat, Jorhat, Dibrugarh, etc.
Industrial Growth of North Eastern Region:
The Government of India’s Look East Policy is to focus on Industrial development of the North Eastern Region as most of the South East Asian Countries are closely linked to the North Eastern Region. In this regard some routes of internal connectivity which are presently either underdeveloped or Missing links are to be developed:
There are five or six major missing links in the State which have practically retarded the economic development of the State, in fact, that of the North East as a whole. A few of the missing links have been already notified as National Highway notably:
Dhola – Sadiya Bridge extension of NH to Rowing – work recently completed.
Trans Arunachal Highway – work is in progress,
2 Nos. National Highway to Bhutan NH-127C & NH-127D.
Gohpur – Numaligarh including Bridge over river Brahmaputra.
The following missing links need immediate attention
Alternate route from Barak Valley (Silchar) to Guwahati via Harrangajao, Turuk, Neille.
Disangmuckh near Sivsagar to Tekelipota – Dhakuakhana – North Lakhimpur – Majuli.
Proper Upgradation of Dhodar Ali which connects NH-39.
It is urgently required to connect all the above major missing links in a framed manner within the next ten years so that the State can have an integrated Highway network. Industrial Growth of the North Eastern Region will be effective only on the completion of the above missing links.
Construction of the East-West Corridor in Assam will be completed by NHAI in 2017. Thus thorough 4-lane connectivity from Srirampur (Assam Bengal Border) to Silchar covering a distance of 670 km will be available for uninterrupted Highway traffic which can be properly utilized for connectivity to Myanmar through Moreh shortly. The intervening 60 km NH-53 is also under development to 2-lane with paved shoulder (10m carriageway) under SARDP-NE Phase-A partly under PWD and partly under BRO. For augmenting better economic growth, the standard of living, per capita income, etc. of the people of the North Eastern Region the route for connectivity to Myanmar within Assam is given below.
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