The 4th Connect North East Summit was inaugurated under the theme ‘Act East through Nagaland” at NBCC Convention Center, Kohima on Friday.
Addressing the delegates, Chief Minister, T.R Zeliang stressed on people to people connectivity apart from other connectivities. He said North East region is landlocked, except Assam, therefore air and road connectivities become the feasible options, and people have been using roads mostly because of the poor air connectivity.
Sharing his experiences while traveling on six-lane roads in South- East Asia, Zeliang said good roads with beautiful green landscapes on both sides have reached our borders and it should be connected to mainland India by mending the bottlenecks in North-East roads like the stretch from Imphal to Kohima.
He mentioned that the dreams of Look East Policy could have been materialized if there were more summits like the North East Connectivity. He said North East has huge potential with rich forest and natural resources, high literacy rate with a vast reservoir of educated and dynamic workforce, fluent in English, progressive in outlook and IT savvy. He also added that huge tourism potential in Nagaland lie dormant.
He said Nagaland shares 215 km of International border and the eight states of North East share over 5300 km of border with five countries. “With development of connectivity infrastructure and cooperation with the neighboring countries, North East can easily become a major trading and economic hub connecting South East Asia and the ASEAN countries” He added.
He further stated that the most practical road and rail connectivity between India and South East Asia should run through Nagaland to Moreh border via Imphal, the route for which the battle of Kohima was fought during the World War II. He added that we can access to markets of South East Asian countries through Myanmar and therefore we need people to people contact with Myanmar.
Chief Secretary Nagaland, Pankaj Kumar, in his opening remark said improvement in connectivity with Myanmar and beyond would unlock the potential of trade and commerce which would require strengthening of infrastructure and manpower at trade point. He commented that people to people connectivity which is significant not only from the prospective of the traditional affinity of the communities on both sides of international border with Myanmar but also for tourism. ‘Socio-economic development with the improvement of connectivity in north east would bring more optimistic and peaceful environment unlashing the potential of people’ he said.
Kenko Sone, Minister, Economics Embassy of Japan, speaking at the summit said North Eastern Region is located at a strategically and economically important juncture between India and Southeast Asia as well as within BIMSTEC countries therefore Japan has placed a particular importance on the cooperation in North Eastern Region.
He added that Japan Government to encourage cultural cooperation with the north has initiated “IRIS Program” and will invite 25 young people from Manipur and Nagaland this year to Japan.
Connectivity should ensure the development of all countries and use of connectivity infrastructure be open, transparent and nonexclusive manner based on international standards, he commented. He further added that in addition to infrastructure Japan wishes to explore cooperation on business development and connect the region to other parts of country or neighboring nations.
Japan has been undertaking extensive cooperation in North Eastern Region, ranging from road network connectivity, energy, water supply and sewage, forest resource management, biodiversity, to people-to-people exchange, Japanese language education and post-war reconciliation, he said.