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Aid boost for road network

Guwahati, Feb. 13: A study conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has identified a number of road projects to improve transport infrastructure and connectivity in the Northeast.

“The Northeast is a key area having potential for development in sectors like agriculture and tourism. As a matter of fact, there exists tremendous scope for trade and economic activities with neighbouring countries of Bangladesh, Myanmar and Bhutan. However, lack of quality cross-border transport infrastructure is impeding such potential,” Shinya Ejima, chief representative of JICA India, said today.

The study undertaken by the agency in August 2013 has short-listed seven projects in the region for potential assistance.

“The study can form the basis of funding for road and railway projects in the region,” Ejima said on the sidelines of a seminar here on the JICA survey on transport infrastructure development for regional connectivity in and around South Asia.

Established as an independent administrative institution, JICA aims to contribute to the promotion of international cooperation and uplift of developing regions. Its present focus is to improve road connectivity in the South and Southeast Asian nations.

“Our priority is to improve road connectivity from the Northeast to neighbouring countries so that trade and commerce can be encouraged. At the same time, JICA cannot finance all projects and the governments have to prioritise the need for external finance,” Ejima said.

He said JICA’s policy would be to support the Indian government in attaining inclusive growth.

“The Northeast is lagging behind other states and the need is to attain inclusive growth. We have to identify the missing links and connect the region to places like Myanmar,” he said.

JICA is funding 85 per cent cost of a water supply project here. “The progress of the water project is better than that in other states,” Ejima said.

On whether the agency would fund the metro rail project in Guwahati, he said, “We have no idea about it. However, a detailed project report has to be prepared first and its viability ensured.”

Representatives from the Asian Development Bank and the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific also underlined the need to transform transport corridors into economic corridors.