Shillong, Sep 24 (IANS) Union Road and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari here on Monday announced that the government will spend Rs 1.5 lakh crore for improving national highways in the northeastern states of the country.
“The Central government will spend Rs 1.5 lakh crore on improving national highways in the northeastern states.
“This will include about Rs 17,000 crore in Sikkim; Rs 48,221 crore in Assam; Rs 20,000 crore in Nagaland; Rs 12,000 crore Mizoram; Rs 22,000 crore in Manipur; Rs 8,000 crore in Tripura; Rs 10,000 crore in Arunachal Pradesh; and Rs 8,000 crore in Meghalaya,” the Minister said while inaugurating the 102-km Jowai-Ratacherra section of NH-6 in Meghalaya.
The 102-km two-laned stretch of the highway has been constructed at the cost of Rs 683 crore. It has three major bridges across rivers — Alpha, Lubha and Umproshung — along with 34 minor ones, 441 culverts and a 123-metre-long tunnel.
The Union Minister said the Jowai-Ratacherra road will boost the overall socio-economic development of the population of the Jaintia Hill districts.
He said trucks and heavy vehicles coming from the Brahmaputra Valley of Assam can move smoothly in a record time to Silchar in Barak Valley, within Assam and thus provide connectivity to Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura and Southern Assam.
The travel time from Jowai to Ratacherra will be reduced from 4 hours to 2.5 hours.
The Minister further said land acquisition and environmental clearances were the two major hurdles delaying the road infrastructure projects in the northeastern states.
He asked the Chief Ministers of the northeastern states to hold monthly review meetings on land acquisition and environmental clearance for early implementation of road projects.
Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, Tripura Chief Minister Biplap Deb, Arunachal Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein and a host of Meghalaya cabinet ministers were prsesent at the inauguration ceremony.
“Land acquisition is a state subject and therefore we need the cooperation of the respective states. If the state can make progress on land acquisition and environmental clearance fast, we assure you that we will immediately approve the road projects and start the project as early as possible,” Gadkari said.
Noting that prosperity comes from roads, the Union Minister said that industries and agriculture are the two very important sectors.
“If you want to develop industry and agriculture, four important factors are water, transport, road and communication, and without them we don’t have industry and without industry we don’t have employment potential.”
Reaffirming that the Central government is giving the “highest priority to development of the North East”, Gadkari said: “We want to implement all road projects in the region in a transparent and corruption-free manner. The government has decided to construct more railway lines and develop inland waterways to boost trade and commerce.”
Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said the highway will help boost the economy of the area.
“With the area being a high economic activity zone, the completion of the road will go a long way in boosting the economy of the area in particular and Meghalaya as a whole,” Sangma said.
The highway that passes through the coal and cement producing belt is a lifeline for the landlocked states of the North East.