New Delhi: The Centre has announced significant increase in the outlay for the Northeastern region in the interim Budget presented in New Delhi on Friday.
In his Budget speech, Union minister Piyush Goyal said, “The government has proposed to increase the allocation for the Northeastern region to ₹58,166 crore this year. It will be a 21% rise over the previous year."
In the Union Budget 2018-19, the government had set aside ₹50,000 crore for the region.
Earlier, speaking about infrastructure development being on the fast track, the minister averred, “Infrastructure is the backbone of any nation's development and quality of life. Whether it is highways or railways or airways or even digiways, we have gone beyond incremental growth to attain transformative achievements.”
Informing Parliament that container freight movement had started on inland waterways from Kolkata to Varanasi, the minister said that the navigation capacity of the Brahmaputra too would be boosted.
“Our government will introduce container cargo movement to the Northeast as well, by improving the navigation capacity of the Brahmaputra river.”
Speaking to EastMojo, captains of the Indian industry have widely welcomed the move.
Anshuman Magazine, chairman & CEO, India, South East Asia, Middle East & Africa, CBRE, said, “The Northeast has been ignored for a long time and I am glad that this government is paying attention to it. The region is rich in natural resources and also of great strategic importance. You can’t have a situation where a few states are doing very well, while most others aren't.”
Magazine also added that the full human resource potential of the region was yet to be realised.
Ajay Singh, co-founder & CMD of SpiceJet, India’s fourth largest airline by market share, remarked, “This increase in allocation will help. There is so much potential to the region as long as benefits reach the people.”
The last four years have witnessed completion of several big-ticket infrastructure projects in the region, including the rail and road Bogibeel Bridge over the mighty Brahmaputra River as well as addition of the states of Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura on the country's railway map. The present government has also chalked out to link all states in the region by railway next year.
The interim Budget was presented nearly two months before India goes to polls in what is often described as the largest exercise in participatory democracy.
However, in the past few weeks Northeast has witnessed strident protests against the government’s Citizenship (Amendment) Bill leading political observers to ask if the ruling BJP-led combine’s goodwill might be fast eroding in the region.