As promised in the BJP Manifesto of 2019 titled “Sankalp Bharat Sashakt Bharat” (Promise of a Strong India), to see India on the path of global standards in infrastructure and civic amenities, which include amongst others, faster trains, dedicated freight corridor and better passenger amenities, the North East region has received a significant infrastructure boost in the development sector which includes the railways. To overcome the physical and territorial inaccessibility of the remote North East states, the BJP Government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership is making efforts for all round development of the region and to enhance connectivity between the North East states and the rest of the country.
A major step towards this initiative is the inaugural special connectivity train which is being flagged off by President of India Draupadi Murmu from Guwahati on 14th October, 2022 connecting Shokhuvi in Nagaland, Lumding in Assam and Mendipathar in Meghalaya. North Eastern Frontier Railway is extending the service of Guwahati-Lumding-Guwahati Express upto Shokhuvi in Nagaland on one end and upto Mendipathar in Meghalaya on the other. This train will link people of three North East states and establish better connectivity and ease of living between these States.
These lines of communication will help in bringing the rest of India closer to the strategically located North East and vice versa. Currently all seven North East states are connected by railway and work is underway in Sikkim which will soon be completed. Meghalaya joined the railway map of India when the first passenger train linking Mendipathar in North Garo Hills District with Dudhnoi in Assam was flagged off by Prime Minister Modi via a video link from the Railway Station at Maligaon, Assam in 2014. Capitals of Assam, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh are already connected, work on few others are underway.
Railway is vital for India’s economic development and is the cheapest and most effective mode of transportation for freight and passengers. With railways, states will be able to bring items of daily consumption as well as construction materials in a much cheaper, cost-effective and environment friendly manner. Farmers will be able to send their products to a larger market in each State at a lower cost and in a timely manner. The North East region is the new growth engine for India and India’s Act East Policy places the North East states on the territorial frontier of India’s eastward engagement.
It was announced in the Union Budget of 2022-23 that it will fund infrastructure in the spirit of PM Gati Shakti and encourage social development projects, based on specific needs of the North East. Investment in infrastructure always generates employment and will provide the required impetus to the region to bring it at par with other developed regions. Recently India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the execution of several rail, road and air connectivity projects in the North East. These projects will create a large number of jobs in the region for gainful employment of locals and transform the socio-economic landscape of the region.
Prime Minister Modi during his 75th Independence Day address to the nation stressed on the “new history of connectivity” which will form a link to the economic growth of the region. As a new history is being written with the inaugural train from Shokhuvi to Mendipathar being flagged off, we place our belief and faith in the saying that wherever railways go, development follows. Judging the BJP only on the basis of the work that it is doing, I have come to believe that it is the only cure to the virus of stagnation, latency and underdevelopment that is plaguing Meghalaya since its statehood.