New Delhi(PTI): Making up for the lost ground, the Centre on Saturday said it will start Rs 20,000-crore road projects, besides developing inland waterways, in the North-East by the end of this year to improve infrastructure in the region.
"By the end of December this year, we will award road projects worth Rs 20,000 crore in the North-East. These will be spread across the region for improving the infrastructure, which will help the economy of the North-East," Union Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Jairam Gadkari said at a press conference in Guwahati. The projects will have a long gestation period and will be implemented by public sector undertakings, besides private entities, in the public-private partnership mode, he added.
"Of these, around Rs 6,000-crore projects will be in Arunachal Pradesh while projects worth of Rs 8,000 crore will be developed in Assam. The remaining will be for other parts of the region," Gadkari said. Currently, Rs 31,025 crore worth of roads running into over 3,700 km are under development, which are being constructed by 10 players through 104 projects. Gadkari, in the same breath, called upon north-eastern states to acquire land and secure necessary environmental clearances before the Ministry of Road Transport and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) can go ahead with these projects.
He said the central government will encourage local contractors in the region by awarding smaller sizes of road projects, thus providing employment there. "These measures will ease the bottlenecks in establishing road projects," he added. On inland waterways, Gadkari said the Centre will bring in a piece of legislation soon to declare 13 more national waterways on as many rivers in the North-East.
These rivers are Barak, Lohit, Subansiri, Gangadhar, Aai, Beki, Puthimari, Kopili, Dihing, Dhansiri, Dikhow, Doyang and Tlawng. "Construction of a ship repair facility at Pandu in Guwahati will start by October this year. We will have a dry dock there at a cost of Rs 50 crore," the Minister said. The Minister also reached out to all separatist groups operating in the region to shun violence and "join the mainstream to be part of the development story".
Gadkari further said his Ministry has booked 95 lakh tonnes of cement from manufacturers at a cheaper rate of Rs 120 per bag, excluding transportation and taxes. "Of these 1.5 lakh tonnes have been sold. I request all the state governments here that if they are doing any construction work, please purchase it from us. It's much cheaper than the market rate and it will significantly reduce construction cost," he added.