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Sonowal seeks PM’s help to fast-track highway project

From Our Correspondent

GUWAHATI: Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has sought the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure early completion of the Asian Trilateral Highway (ATH) from Mae Sot in Thailand via Myanmar up to Moreh in Manipur which would go a long way in restoring trade links of the North East with ASEAN.
Sonowal who met the Prime Minister in New Delhi on Wednesday, in a memorandum observed that early completion of the trilateral highway was essential that with the path-breaking Act East Policy, the BJP-led NDA government has repositioned the North East region as the country’s expressway to the ASEAN.
In order to take full advantage of this initiative and to ensure that the North East Region becomes the “new engine” of India’s growth, Sonowal sought urgent intervention of the Prime Minister for early completion of the highway.
Referring to an agreement with Bangladesh for access of Bangladesh ports to vessels from North East India, Sonowal requested Modi to forge an agreement to use the ports at Chittagong and Mongla for boosting trade of the North East with the rest of the country through Bangladesh.
He also drew the attention of the Prime Minister regarding the revival of two units Nagaon Paper Mill, Jagiroad and Cachar Paper Mill, Silchar of Hindustan Paper Corporation (HPC) in Assam.
He maintained that these two units are crucial not only in providing livelihood to more than 2000 people but also to two lakh families who supply raw materials for these units.
Sonowal handed over a memorandum to Modi urging the Centre to revive the Flood Management Programme (FMP) as well.
Sonowal said that the FMP was an important source of funding for taking up flood and erosion management work in the state.
The revival of FMP would enable the state government to take up the flood protection works with renewed momentum.
Sonowal also made it clear that Assam is one of the most disaster-prone states in India.
Apart from floods being a major problem, river bank erosion also pose serious damage to the socio-economic scenario of the state.
However, he maintained that since ‘river erosion’ is not included in the SDRF guidelines, quick and timely steps to counter erosion are not possible.
He, therefore, urged upon the Prime Minister to consider ‘river erosion’ as an eligible calamity for consideration of assistance under NDRF/SDRF.
Sonowal also sought Prime Minister’s support in expeditious approval of multiple Externally Aided Project (EAP) proposals worth over Rs 20,000 crore in key sectors such as urban development, fisheries, roads/bridges, tourism, healthcare, power, water resources.
With regard to North East Industrial Development Scheme (NEIDS) 2017, Sonowal requested the Prime Minister to impress upon the concerned ministry to make it more attractive to the industries with larger investments.
He stated that MSME sectors will flourish only if larger investments come into the state.
He also said that the cap of the Central Capital Investment Incentive under NEIDS 2017 may be enhanced to at least Rs 50 crore in order to attract mega industries.

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