Efforts afoot to make Northeast 'a gateway for SE Asia': Modi
New Delhi, May 7: Aiming to make the Northeast a gateway of Southeast Asia, the government has initiated major infrastructure projects in the seven states, including investing Rs 40,000 crore to improve the roads and highways, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday.
However, he lamented that "only Gangtok in the Northeast had found a place in the first 50 clean cities", out of the 12 cities from the region surveyed as part of the recent nationwide cleanliness survey.
"While four Northeastern cities found a place between 100 and 200 clean cities, seven were positioned between 200 and 300, with Shillong being the 276th," he said while stressing that 'Swachhata' or cleanliness was a major challenge for everyone in the region.
"We have to make the Northeast a gateway for Southeast Asia," Modi said, adding if this gateway is dirty, then the dream would not be fulfilled and asked the people and organisations like the Sangha to join hands in the cleanliness campaign.
Observing that there has been no balanced development in the entire Northeastern region since Independence, Modi said his government with all its resources had planned to bring about overall and balanced development of the states.
The Prime Minister said that "the major thrust would be to improve connectivity and develop the entire region for tourism purposes. All these initiatives will help to make the Northeast the gateway of Southeast Asia," he said.
While an investment of Rs 40,000 crore is being made to improve the road infrastructure in the Northeast, 19 big railway projects have also been started in the region, he said.
"We are also improving the electricity situation in the Northeast and trying to bring even more tourists to the region," Modi said.
Announcing that the Northeast would soon be connected with UDAN scheme, he said that "small airports were also being developed in the region, while the extension of the runway at Shillong airport has been approved."