Agartala (Tripura), Oct.10 (ANI): DoNER Minister Dr.Jitendra Singh met Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar on Friday and discussed the progress of various projects for the development of the landlocked bordering state through improving connectivity and proper utilisation of its strategic location beside abundantly available raw materials.
Later addressing the media, Singh said Tripura will soon be connected by broad gauge rail and taking advantage of its strategic location should be able to improve India’s bilateral trade with neighbouring countries under the Act East Policy.
“As a follow up to our focus for the development of the region and the state, the railway ministry has committed that by March 2016 we would have a broad gauge rail link over here. This was one project which was pending for quite some time. The deadline was fixed but as you know deadline sometime gets extended. So now, we have got a firm commitment that by March 2016, you will have a double gauge train moving into Agartala,” said Singh.
He further stated, “This will be of huge importance to us because this will be able to convert and develop Agartala into a major railway junction and it will help in expending the network in the region not only within Tripura but also outside Tripura. More important than that now with the Prime Minister’s emphasis on Act East Policy we will also be able to plan further rail connectivity with the neighbouring countries particularly Bangladesh.”
The Union Minister informed that to expedite the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Act East Policy, India is prioritising multi-modal connectivity in the north eastern region, including water connectivity and already 16 projects have been approved for this region and Tripura should take maximum advantage from it to increase bilateral trade with neighbouring Bangladesh.
The DoNER minister said, “We have also got in touch with the shipping ministry for the waterways. There are already 16 approved waterways for the Northeast from Brahmaputra down to Bay of Bengal. How best can be that used to the advantage of Tripura will also be worked out an partly that will also require the involvement of the Ministry of External Affairs because of the water borders that we have but if we are able to convince that the neighours of Tripura will also be equably be benefitted whether they are in India or outside India namely West Bengal or Bangladesh.”
“We can work out some mechanism to use these waterways to get maximum potential as it will not only help in trade but it will also help in better neighbourly relations. And it will also supplement in the Prime Minister’s Act East Policy because if we have to Act East affectively across the borders then we have to start acting east from Tripura and reaching to the areas which are proximate to the border so that we can develop the products and produces from here and sell them across the other side.”
Dr. Singh said Tripura has huge potential and can become the ‘Bamboo State of India’.
“Our bamboo potential of this state seems to be underutilized. My contention was that each of the state of the Northeast will have an individual identity of its own so that it is known for something. It’s my firm believe that the state of Tripura has huge potential to emerge as the bamboo state of India. Anybody from this state will take pride in the thought that be come to be known as bamboo state of India is just simple a state in Northeast,” said the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, etc.
He informed that the fund required for the Agartala-Akhaura (in Bangladesh) rail connectivity project is being sorted out as it is a matter related to the External Affairs Ministry and DoNER hence Railways alone is not suppose to look into the matter.
The minister, who his on his maiden two day visit to the state, informed that the northeastern states need to prepare themselves to take benefits of trade opening up with the neighbouring countries especially in regard to production of goods and services.
The eight northeastern States-Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim-share 5,437 km of India’s international boundaries with China, Myanmar, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal. (ANI)