The finance ministry will shortly consider a proposal moved by roads minister Nitin Gadkari to invest $6 billion in building roads and related infrastructure across northeast extending up to the Thai border via Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Myanmar. As per the proposal, Asian Development Bank (ADB) has come forward to provide $3 billion in soft loans over the next five years.

Since India does not have border connectivity with Thailand, Myanmar is being roped in to facilitate this extension. Myanmar is not averse to extension of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) road network up to the Thai border.

Apart from extending the BBIN project up to the Thai border via Myanmar, the government last week accorded in-principle clearance to expand and fourlane the Itanagar-Banderdewa stretch on National Highway 52A. It would also consider a proposal to doublelane the 407-km-long Potin- Pangin project with an investment of Rs 2,000 crore.

The Centre will also execute the 2,100-km-long road between Mago and Vijaynagar to connect Tawang and Changlang districts. The government will also execute the 431-km-long eastwest industrial corridor in the same region. Government officials also hinted that roads in Arunachal Pradesh would be built separately with Rs 25,000 crore investments because they were not subject to funding from multi-lateral agencies like World Bank and ADB after China stated its objections 4 years back.

These projects are part of larger plan to strengthen the road network and infrastructure in the northeastern states that are being looked at as a gateway to South and South East Asian trading and investment partners. The finance minister will also consider making an allocation of at least $1 billion in the next budget for development of road networks and related infrastructure across the N-E states.

The BBIN motor vehicles agreement was signed on June 15 in Bhutanese capital Thimphu. The draft protocol finalised on September 8-9, 2015, at Dhaka would be concluded between four countries at a meet to be held in Siliguri where Myanmar will be represented. The project connecting Kolkata with Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal is already under implementation.

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