Northeast to be made commercial hub of Southeast Asia: Centre

Agartala : Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said Saturday India’s northeast region would be made a “trading and commercial hub of Southeast Asia”.

“Over 98 percent of northeastern states’ boundaries are international boundaries. Based on this scope, the northeast region would be made a trading and commercial hub of Southeast Asia,” he said after inaugurating the cargo complex of the integrated checkpost in Agartala along the Bangladesh border.

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Rijiju said: “The Look East Policy was launched in 1991. But northeastern states were not considered that way it should be looked into. Hence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced to make ‘Look-East Policy’, into an “Act East Policy.”

The union minister said a Japanese delegation met him in New Delhi Friday and he told them that the central government wants massive investment in the northeastern region to tap its vast resources and and scope.

The eight northeastern states – Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim – shares 5,437 km international boundaries with China, Myanmar, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

Built at a cost of Rs.74 crore, India’s second international-standard multi-purpose ICP in Agartala and the first along the Bangladesh border was inaugurated by former union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde Nov 17 last year.

The first international standard ICP was inaugurated in Attari in Punjab along the Pakistan border by then union home minister P. Chidambaram in April 2012.

Rijiju said the central government in its last budget allocated Rs.53,000 crore for the all round development of the northeast region.

“Though the region is geographically far away from New Delhi and the region is surrounded by many countries, we would make these scopes advantageous for the region,” he said, adding the region’s strategic significance would be utilised in a positive way.

Appealing to the underground militants to come to the mainstream of the country, Rijiju said establishing peace in Manipur was a challenge for his government.

“Except some areas of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, most parts of the northeastern region are peaceful areas. If the militants of the different outfits, come to the mainstream of the country, we would economically rehabilitate them and would provided government jobs,” he added.

He said with the appointment of central government’s new interlocutor R.N. Ravi (who is also the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee), the peace talks with National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) is going on in a positive direction.

“Talks with one faction of ULFA (United Liberation Front of Asom) are also progressing positively and another faction of the group is outside India,” the minister added.