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Northeast Playing A Larger Role in ’Act East’- An Emerging Picture

northeastern states

The fact that the Modi government has brought the northeastern states of this country to the larger developmental discourse is well known. One may refer to our earlier article Bogibeel Bridge and the New Era of North-East Connectivity for the details. This government not only has connected the northeastern states to the rest of India with a massive infrastructure push but also provided a place of prominence in the foreign affairs arena by putting them at centre stage of its ‘Act East’ policy. There are some positive developments which indicate that the momentum of development of Northeast and the role it has in the neighborhood policy is sustained and thriving.

Marketing Power

It has now been reported that Tripura started selling its surplus power to Nepal. Earlier, in 2015, the same state had entered into an agreement with Bangladesh for power supply. Tripura generates power from thermal and hydro-electric plants besides having some capacity in producing solar power. Tripura is one among 8 states that have achieved 100% household electrification under Saubhagya back in November 2018 itself. After this achievement the state is selling the excess power it generates to the neighbouring countries.

Flow of Investment

In another development reported in this month, Japan has decided to invest an amount of Rs 13,000 crore in several ongoing as well as new projects in different states of India’s northeastern region. The Economic Times in its report lists some of the projects in the northeastern region which the Japan government agreed to collaborate on: Guwahati Water Supply Project and Guwahati Sewage Project in Assam, Northeast Road Network Connectivity Improvement Project spread over Assam and Meghalaya, Northeast Network Connectivity Improvement Project in Meghalaya, Bio-diversity Conservation and Forest Management Project in Sikkim, Sustainable Forest Management Project in Tripura, Technical Cooperation Project for Sustainable Agriculture & Irrigation in Mizoram, Forest Management Project in Nagaland, etc.

Conclusion

Once the northeastern states were known for blockades and insurgencies. But ever since the Modi government came in, they are hogging the headlines for commerce and connectivity reasons. On the one hand, their connectivity with the rest of India has improved by leaps and bounds. Additionally, they have now been made capable of dealing with the countries in the neighborhood. While there is a plan in progress to connect the northeastern states with Bangladesh’s Chittagong port, Sittwe port in Myanmar has already been completed to ensure access to the Bay of Bengal to land-locked states in the Northeast.

Thus, the northeastern states are emerging as key players in India’s economic and strategic interests.

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