Guwahati, May 25 : Improving connectivity of the North East region will be the key agenda of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his ensuing visit to Bangladesh as the Government of India has come to the conclusion that connectivity through the neighbouring country is a must for the development of the region.
Highly placed sources in the Government of India said that the Prime Minister is very clear in his mind on the issue of improving connectivity of the North East. “The Prime Minister is of the view that geographic remoteness is the root cause of underdevelopment of North East and there is urgent need for improving connectivity for the all round development of the region,” sources said.
Sources pointed out that improving relations with Bangladesh and transit through that country is vital for the development of North East and that is why, this would be the key issue for discussion during Modi's scheduled visit to Dhaka early next month. The Government of Bangladesh has already allowed on principle to allow India the use of Chittagong port. But the modalities would have to be finalized before India gets access to the port.
Sources pointed out that the use of Chittagong Port would open up a host of opportunity for the North East. Lack of sea connectivity was one of the major problems faced by the region since Independence and this issue would be taken up by Modi during his visit. The Government of India has already started working on road connectivity of North East with the South East Asian countries. But land connectivity depends on several key factors like the rough terrain, particularly in Myanmar.
“Moreover, we do not know how the political and security situation in Myanmar will develop in the days to come. If something goes wrong in Myanmar, the road connectivity between the North East and the South East Asian countries will be badly affected. In such a scenario, the use of Chittagong Port will come very handy,” sources added.
Moreover, sources said that at this moment, the North East is connected with the rest of the country only by a chicken neck corridor in North Bengal, it in turn has affected movement of goods to the region and resulted in escalation of prices. Use of the Chittagong Port and water ways through Bangladesh will ease out this problem to a great extent. Moreover, the road transit facilities through Bangladesh will also be immensely beneficial for the North East and the Prime Minister will take up these issues with his Bangladesh counterpart in his visit.
Sources further pointed out that maintaining good relation with Bangladesh does not have much economic relevance to the rest of the country. But it is vital in the perspective of the North East region if the region has to see economic growth.