Strategic connectivity of North east and its Tourism Potential

Dear Editor,
North East always finds a mention on a tourism bucket list. There are wild destinations to witness three sixty degree happiness. But there is transportation bottleneck in the entire north eastern states. We need to find the opportunity to capitalize it.
National highways of north east carry strategic interest for this frontier land. Improvements of these roads will bring sea change in their tourism industry. The historic Ledo-Stillwell Road is required to open for South Asia connectivity. Even Mountbatten confused this Ledo road to be a river, while flying over the Hukawng valley during monsoon. The Indian side of the road is still navigable by car, but once in Burma, the road soon disappears. The India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) road corridor of the Trans-Asian Highway network will greet commuters very soon. Our PM is very keen to make northeast (Astalakshmi) region to a tourist hub.
Beautiful Shillong popularly called ‘the abode of clouds’ is most preferred by visitors as it is easily accessible through incredible road from Guwahati, passing through some of the most magical mountains, breathtaking waterfalls and panoramic landscape. The Kernel of the Cherrapunji plateau comprises the oldest rocks in the State. Despite hanging fire last two decades, the survey of Shillong railway network has now finally completed.
Bus services are introduced to connect Calcutta via the capital of Bangladesh. People of Tripura, Meghalaya and Assam, which share extensive boundaries with India’s eastern neighbour, would benefit from this. India and Bangladesh are also keen to strengthen railway connectivity, which were in existence prior to 1965. They are set to sign a coastal shipping agreement to facilitate sailing of small vessels from India to various ports in Bangladesh, which now go through Singapore. India feels improving connectivity with Bangladesh will help linking the North eastern region with Southeast Asia.
Railways are coming up Bhalukpung to Tawang, Murkongselek to Pasighat in Arunachal and Silapathar. Very sooner we will have easy access to India’s another mountain pass Tawang, which has recently caught tourists’ attention. It was under Tibetan government even after independence until Indian Army took over in 1951. Also it has significance as a place where the Chinese occupied for a long time, preparing the 1962 war almost unhindered until international pressure brokered a ceasefire.
The opening of old Silk Route makes Nathula the centre of attraction for border trade to specific type of goods to promote friendly relationship. Nathula has its significance as our then PM Nehru and Spiritual Dalai Lama crossed through this pass. BRO inspiring line “if you can dream it you can do it” is doing excellent job in maintenance of one of the highest motorable roads.
Barak valley of Silchar is now connected with broad gauge. Mizoram capital is to be on railway map by next year. India wants to connect its Railways track with Chittagong port through Sabroom. Even Bangladesh shows interest into the same tourist circuit. Chittagong port will be the NE’s first gateway to the sea since partition. Tripura entered the broad gauge railway map of the country connecting capital via Guwahati. Agartala-Akhoura railway link would be part of trans-Asian rail connectivity in the future.
When we look Dubai, it is very interesting to know that Tourism is an important part of the Dubai government’s strategy to maintain the flow of foreign cash into the emirate. Nevertheless, the country remains principally reliant on its export of petroleum and natural gas. Moving back to India, In Gujarat, people always talk about the ideal destination of a romantic holiday. And I cannot remember an occasion when there was so much excitement and anticipation on the tour of journey to the land of Portuguese. It had been truly a phenomenal tour de Diu. The people of Diu retain their heritage to date and tourism is the only industry of their state.
Our own mighty Brahmaputra has its potential to be a mega hub for tourist. More number of bridges will bring ease connectivity to both side of the river. Even neighbouring Gangtok established to be a visitor’s delight. Despite disturbance, hospitality in Kashmir valley is well known. North east needs to develop their own strategy to attract tourist. We are not just states of suffering problems; surely, we have hope and happening around. It has been the meeting point of many communities, faiths and cultures and has some real surprises for the travellers. Together we can generate immense interest within and outside the nation.
The ongoing campaign by Assam tourism signifies excellent start to add momentum to promote and showcase Assam around the world. Act east policy will surely add bright outlook for higher tourist footfalls from south Asian countries too. Relaxation of permit for foreigner and better air connectivity will add to its progress. Despite geographically isolated from the rest of the India, the new roadmap of Assam make visitors friendly once they reach in this land. Surely it promises to be a hot-spot tourist destination in future. One should experience the rare beauty of this wonderful land once in life time.
Kamal Baruah



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