Sinlung /
18 December 2013

Ministry Looks To Japanese Funds For Highway Projects in Northeast

New Delhi, Dec 18 : The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is trying to tie up Japanese funds for projects in the North-East that had difficulty in attracting private sector investment in the past, said officials aware of the development.

These projects include highway stretches in states such as Mizoram, Nagaland, Assam and Meghalaya - in some cases they lie close to the Myanmar and Bangladesh border - as well as bridge projects over the Brahmaputra in Assam.

The ministry will seek assistance from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Japan's official financial assistance arm, for the projects.

"We have had discussions with the Japanese government and they have shown interest in the proposal. We have narrowed down projects and would ask the Department of Economic Affairs to include this in the JICA Rolling Plan. JICA can assist with the preparation of the detailed project reports (DPRs)," said a road ministry official familiar with the issue.

Another ministry official confirmed the development, saying foreign funding is necessary since domestic investment has not been forthcoming so far.

At present, the JICA is conducting a study in consultation with the highways ministry to identify specific cooperation areas on developing connectivity, including highways in the North-East. JICA has begun gathering data on transport infrastructure development for regional connectivity in and around South Asia since August 2013 to assess the current situation and chart out a plan for regional cooperation in the inland transport sector in South Asia.

"The rapid economic growth in South Asia, reforms in Myanmar and various development movements in South East Asia, including establishment of ASEAN Economic Community by 2015, have generated strong momentum for enhancing the regional connectivity through development of cross border infrastructure, both within and between countries in South Asia and South-East Asia.

"Considering the above, especially in the Indian context, there's no doubt that the North-East is the most crucial region in terms of connectivity across borders to countries like Myanmar and further on. Among other things, the study team intends to identify requirements for transport infrastructure in the North Eastern region of India," said Shinya Ejima, JICA's chief representative in India.

"JICA's study would be aligned with India's Look-East policy as well as along the lines of a broader cooperation among South Asian nations and Japan," he added. The highways ministry is also working with the Asian Development Bank (ABD) to develop and expand India's road network.from the North-East into Myanmar.


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