Sushma Swaraj meets Chief Ministers of Northeastern states to talk on Act East policy
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday chaired a meeting on India’s Act East policy with Chief Ministers of northeastern states and other senior state and Central officials and stakeholders
NEW DELHI: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday chaired a meeting on India’s Act East policy with Chief Ministers of northeastern states and other senior state and Central officials and stakeholders like NITI Aayog.
Greater road, rail, air and riverine connectivity and economic integration of India’s north-east with its eastern neighbours was considered a key focus area for growth and development of the region, the External Affairs Ministry said after the meeting.
Minister of State for External Affairs General V K Singh, NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Dr Rajiv Kumar, Chief Ministers Sarbananda Sonowal (Assam), N Biren Singh (Manipur), Conrad Sangma (Meghalaya), Neiphiu Rio (Nagaland) and Biplab Kumar Deb (Tripura), and Deputy Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh Chowna Mein were among those who attended the meeting.
The meeting assumes significance given China’s aggressive positioning of its belt-and-road initiative, which threatens to subsume some projects that are part of the Act East policy launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the East Asia Summit in Myanmar in November 2014.
The discussions mostly revolved around how to scale up air and road connectivity within the seven northeastern states, ways to expand that network beyond into south-east Asia through Myanmar through surface and air linkages and then to expand that to neighbouring nations to the East.
The Act East Policy focuses on reaching out to the extended neighbourhood in the Asia-Pacific region not just in terms of trade and transit, but also to promote cultural and strategic relations with these nations, most of whom are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN.
Many of these initiatives involve reviving stalled projects hit by political apathy, environmental issues or land acquisition in both the northeastern states as well as in the neighbouring nations. Some of them include the Kaladan Multi-modal Transit Transport Project, the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway Project, Rhi-Tiddim Road Project and the revival of border haats.
Among other issues, Biplab Kumar Deb urged the government to help remove the trade imbalance between Tripura and Bangladesh due to Port Restrictions imposed by Bangladesh on items exported from Tripura. He also urged the speedy creation of infrastructure in the Land Customs Stations in Bangladesh for smoother movement of goods.
Chowna Mein said the historic Stilwell Road in Arunachal Pradesh needs to be revived for boosting trade relation with ASEAN countries.