No one in Delhi interested in northeast's roads

Vol 21, PW 1 (05 Oct 17) Midstream & Downstream

Narendra Modi's government, it seems, is more interested in roadshows than roads! In a remarkable display of disrespect to India's north-east, road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari failed to attend the 4th North East Connectivity summit in Nagaland capital Kohima from September 22 to 23 organised by FICCI with backing from Gadkari's own ministry.

Around 170 delegates from across India plus dignitaries from Japan, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Russia held productive brainstorming sessions on improving road infrastructure, in particular Asian Highway-1 - an ambitious 20,557-km road project from Tokyo to Turkey and Europe, passing through Thailand, Myanmar and India's northeast. Nobody from the central government was present, except a solitary joint secretary from the external affairs ministry who half-heartedly presented a forgettable slideshow.

This was a bitter reminder of the central government's lip service and lack of support for road infrastructure in the north-east, so critical for the oil and gas sector and without which rigs, fuel supplies and other equipment can't be transported. "What could we do?" FICCI secretary-general Sanjaya Baru tells this report.

"They were invited." Only the lonely figures of Nagaland chief minister TR Zeliang and Lok Sabha deputy Neiphiu Rio attended. "First the minister (Gadkari) dropped out," Nagaland principal secretary Temjen Toy tells us.

"Then chief ministers (from other northeastern states) dropped out. Then the secretaries didn't bother.

They didn't even send a joint secretary from the road transport ministry!" Ironically, the event was officially supported by the roads and transport, external affairs, and development of north-eastern region ministries.

LNG Summit