The BJP government at the Centre was committed to fast-tracking of development in the Northeastern region, especially in the border areas, and the on-going expansion of road and railway network in the region would be extended to areas along the international borders, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said in Aizawl.
“Our government is committed to fast-tracking of development in the North-eastern region. Work on road and rail network extension is going on. We want to extend these networks to border areas,” Singh said while making his opening remarks at a meeting on the Indo-Myanmar border attended by chief ministers of four Northeastern states in Aizawl. This was the first time that such a meeting was held in the Northeast to discuss issues related to the Indo-Mynamar border.
Describing the Indo-Myanmar border as unique in several aspects, Singh said that the Centre has been releasing funds for this border area without any hindrance. “The India-Myanmar border is unique in many ways. It has a visa-free movement regime for the people living within 16 km on either side. Four states that share international boundary with Myanmar have received Rs 567.39 crore under the Border Area Development programme in the past three years,” the Home Minister said.
Singh also praised the Assam Rifles – India’s oldest para-military force – for its role in guarding the 1,643-km Indo-Myanmar border, and said the force has been performing its duty with courage and determination. The international border with Myanmar is highly porous, and cross-border movement of insurgents and smuggling of arms and ammunition have remained a major problem.
While three chief ministers – Pema Khandu of Arunachal Pradesh, N Biren Singh of Manipur and Lal Thanhawla of Mizoram – attended the meeting, Nagaland chief minister Shurhozelie was represented by home and border affairs minister Y Patton. Chief secretaries and DGPs of the four states, the Assam Rifles Director-General and senior officials from the central ministries concerned were also present at the meeting.
Of the 1643 km of international border that India shares with Myanmar, the state-wise break-up is Arunachal Pradesh (440 km), Nagaland (215 km), Manipur (398 km) and Mizoram (510 km).
Other issues that came up in the discussions included streamlining the free movement regime for better facilitation of movement of people across the border, works relating to boundary survey and other co-ordination issues between the states and the Assam Rifles.