Connectivity issues in Northeast: Minister asks philanthropists for planes
Terming inter-regional mobility a major problem in the Northeast, Union Minister Jitendra Singh on Saturday sought philanthropists' help for ensuring greater air connectivity there by way of placing a couple of aircraft for easier communication.
New Delhi: Terming inter-regional mobility a major problem in the Northeast, Union Minister Jitendra Singh on Saturday sought philanthropists' help for ensuring greater air connectivity there by way of placing a couple of aircraft for easier communication.
"Northeast has the problem of air connectivity. If some philanthropist can offer us two aircraft, we can station them permanently in Guwahati. That will solve much of our problem. We can actually look for it," Singh, the Minister of State for Development of NE Region, said at a business summit on the Northeast region organised here by Indian Chamber of Commerce.
The summit, 'Development Through Partnership with Asean and BIMSTEC Countries', was attended by a host of foreign dignitaries, including Bhutanese Health Minister Lyyonpo Tandin Wangchuk, Bangladesh Industries Minister Alhaz Amir Hossain Amu and U Thar Aye, Chief Minister of Sagaing Region of Myanmar.
Singh said that while Delhi had a direct air link to Guwahati and Shillong, connectivity within the Northeast itself was a huge problem.
He said that national carrier Air India's regional service, Alliance Air, has already placed one aircraft for dedicated operations in the Northeast and added that it will be requested "to deploy one more aircraft on these routes".
The minister also said that the issue of air connectivity would be taken up at the next inter-ministerial meeting with the Civil Aviation Ministry.
Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju, addressing the Summit, said that states also need to be aviation friendly if they wanted the Centre to be so.
"I have been persuading the chief ministers to bring down the tax on aviation turbine fuel, which accounts for 46-50 per cent of an airline's total operations costs. I am hopeful they will do it. We do need to become aviation friendly, probably if the states in the Northeast also become aviation friendly," Raju said.
"Aviation-wise, we will be on a wise wicket if there is productive infrastructure and not an idle infrastructure in place," he added.
Meanwhile, exhorting the private sector to join hands with the government for the development of the Northeast, the minister said there are several projects covering livelihood and infrastructure, among others, which can attract private sector investment.
"We should be able to convince our foreign dignitaries that we would be active enough within our territory to be at a level playing field with them," Singh said.
Stating that an economically-vibrant and prosperous India was an asset not only for the region but also for the world at large, Bhutanese health Minister Wangchuk expressed hope that such meets would promote more cooperation between the private sectors of the two countries.
Bangladesh Industries Minister Amu said his country was keen to be a key partner in the development of business in the region.
"We can certainly utilise the platform of BIMSTEC to promote ties between the SAARC and Asean countries. Ultimately, such an alliance would help in the growth the Northeastern states of India," he said.