Governance of Infrastructure Development in North-East India—Emerging Issues and Prospects for Road Development

Published date01 July 2016
Date01 July 2016
DOI10.1177/0019556120160309
GOVERNANCE OF INFRASTRUCTURE
DEVELOPMENT IN NORTH-EAST
INDIA-
EMERGING ISSUES AND PROSPECTS
FOR
ROAD
DEVELOPMENT
INDERJEET SINGH SODHI
The Government
of
India has embarked on an ambitious plan
to construct strategic roads in border areas on the Bangladesh,
Bhutan, China
and
Myanmar border as well as within the
region. This will greatly
add
to the stock
of
roads
in
the NER
and
serve the needs
of
the local population in addition to strategic
needs. While substantial investments
for
roads have flowed into
the region, issues such as road network planning, maintenance,
ana
proc~~s
'Improvement have liot received ;equired attention.
The emphasis has largely been on sanctioning
new
roads,
neglecting maintenance
of
the existing ones, an undesirable
situation further exacerbated by the languid approach often
leading
to
serious
time
and
cost
overruns.
The
present
government is focusing on the governing
of
road development
in North-Eastern region,
for
which a number
of
new
projects
are being launched independently
and
in collaboration with
international agencies
or
foreign countries. The
prospect
of
road transport in North-East is bright in the near future.
Infrastructure deficits in NER will require committing adequate
public funding, particularly on roads. There is an urgent need
to strengthen the governing capacity
of
the road construction
agencies. The Central
and
state governments have to focus on
the governance
of
infrastructural development, particularly
roadways in theNorth-Eastern region
for
which there is need
for
formulation
of
effective policy.
INTRODUCTION
THE
NORTH-EAST Region (NER)
oflndia
is strategically located as it is
#based
on various Reports, Websites, Journals and Books.
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surrounded by Bhutan, China, Nepal, Myanmar and Bangladesh (Gol, 2014-
15, p.6). The NER extends to north and east
of
the narrow Siliguri corridor
and comprises Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram,
Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura. These eight States cover an area
of2,62,l
89
sq.
km.
constituting 7.98 per cent
of
the. country's total geographical area1
and account for around 3.07 per cent
of
the total population
of
the country
(Census, 2011). The NER is home to 45.53 million or about 3.07 per cent
of
the total population
of
the country,2
of
which 68 per cent live in the State
of
Assam alone. Apart from Tripura, the population
of
all the
NER
States
grew at a much faster rate than the national average in the 1980s and 1990s,
with Nagaland's population growth reportedly touching 64.46 per cent in
the latter decade. Migration
is
seen as an important factor contributing to
high population growth. Most
of
the States
in
the region (apart from Assam
and Tripura) are sparsely populated, with densities far below the national
average. Arunachal's population density
is
only 16.51 person per sq. km.
and Mizoram's
is
51.75.3 Within States, densities vary greatly depending
on the terrain, with fewer people in hill districts than in the plains.
NER
j~
(lrea with physical and social infrastructure deficits and
needs special development efforts, the Central Government, (especially
since Eighth Plan period) through various policy initiatives, is devising
concerted ways to fast track economic growth
in
the Region4The region
is
predominantly rural with over 84 per cent
of
the population living outside
towns and cities (except in Mizoram where only
half
the population lives
in the villages and Manipur where around 76 per cent are rural). Since the
1990s, however, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Sikkim have registered
an increase
in
urban population,5 as people have started moving to towns
and cities in search
of
better livelihood opportunities and better access to
basic services. Marked by diversity in customs, cultures, traditions and
languages, the region
is
home to over 160 scheduled tribes and over 400
other tribal and sub-tribal communities and groups, speaking a variety
of
Tibeto-Burmese languages and dialects with a strong tradition
of
social
and cultural identity, most
of
whom live in the hill States
of
Mizoram,
Nagaland, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh, and form an overwhelming
majority
of
the population
of
these States. The tribal population constitutes
about one-fourth
of
the population
of
the region. The statistical data in the
region shows that in four States, i.e., Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland and
Arunachal Pradesh the tribal people comprise a majority
of
the population
(GOI, 2015, p.5 and 7).
The political as well as the administrative institutions
of
the region
have gone through several changes from pre-colonial to colonial and post-
colonial times. Each
of
the states has its own history, political background,

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