Agartala, June 22 : Deputy Chief Minister of Tripura Jishnu Dev Varma, also in charge of finance, has urged necessary allocation of funds for setting up of Trans-Asian Rail connectivity between Northeast India and Asian countries, while taking part in the pre-budget discussion with Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman in Delhi.
He pointed out that the 257-km long construction of rail track from Jawaharnagar (Tripura) to Kalay in Myanmar via Darlown (Mizoram) was mooted long ago to connect Northeastern states with Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore and other Asian countries but there has not been any significant development in the project.
With the shift of policy direction from Look East Policy to Act East under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s regime, the importance of the Trans Asian connectivity has become multiple. After opening of bridge over river Feni in South Tripura connectivity between Tripura and Chittagong sea port would be established for northeast region and if Tripura – Myanmar rail connectivity was established the dream of Act East policy will be successful.
“To get out of the region from Tripura one has to travel about 1000 kms by rail to reach New Jalpaiguri, the nearest communication hub, but covering one-fourth distance we can reach to the access point of Asian market, which will bring a dramatic change for the region. I request the minister to give a big push to the long waiting project,” Dev Varma stated.
He further mentioned that to accelerate the economic development of northeast under Act East policy, Trans-Asian railways connectivity with South Asian countries was inevitable and it has already been an inter-governmental agreement for establishing strategic partnership among the countries in term of trade, commerce and tourism.
Dev Varma, however, demanded the increase flow of fund and allocation for development of tribal areas in the region besides, special grant for the maintenance of roads created under PMGSY. The economic reforms included push to infrastructure development, outreach program for the MSMEs, enhanced minimum support prices for Kharif and Rabi crops and steps for regional integration.
Highlighting the demand for more allocation of funds for tribal areas especially for Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) of the region, Dev Varma argued that majority of tribal communities reside in Northeastern states and most of them are living below the poverty line. Infrastructure facilities in those areas have also been very poor, which is preventing inclusive growth.
He also requested at least 10 per cent allocation of funds to Northeastern states from Central outlay as part of the gross budgetary support of non-exempted ministries. Considering the financial difficulties and resource crunches, Dev Varma pressed for the demand for provision of Special Central Assistance and Special Plan Assistance under NITI Aayog, which was in planning commission.(UNI)