The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on Wednesday approved the upgradation of a 65-km stretch of National Highway-39 in Manipur to boost the state's connectivity with south and southeast Asia via Myanmar.
Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari told reporters here that the upgradation of NH-39 from Imphal to Moreh (on the Myanmar border) would reduce travel time from three and a half hours to one hour and 45 minutes.
"The project is of importance as it will make possible travel from India to Myanmar and even to Bangkok by road," Gadkari said.
The upgradation of Imphal-Moreh stretch would not only boost international trade and business, but also be important from security point of view, he added.
It is also crucial for socio-economic development in the northeast region, which currently has a poor road network, he said.
The highway would be widened to four lanes between Lilong and Wanginj villages, while the stretch between Wanginj and Khongkhang will be two-laned based on existing and projected traffic requirements, the Road Transport Ministry said.
It said that the corridor is a part of the Asian Highway Number 01 (AH01) and acts as India's gateway to the East.
Gadkari said the project, to cost an estimated Rs 1,630 crore, would create employment opportunities totalling 2.67 lakh man days in Manipur.
He said the northeast region has been a priority for the central government which has already started road infrastructure projects with an investment of Rs 50,000 crore in the region.
"Our target is to have projects with investments totalling Rs 2 lakh crore by the time we complete our five years in power," the Minister said.
Manipur is a landlocked state with almost 90 per cent of its area falling under difficult terrain. Roads are the only means of mass transport within the state.
The Ministry said the development of road infrastructure is of paramount importance to improve connectivity and to ensure that the administrative set-up reaches isolated and remote habitats.
The project is being implemented with Asian Development Bank's loan assistance under the South Asian Sub-Regional Economic Cooperation Road Connectivity Investment Programme. It aims at upgradation of road infrastructure in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, and India to improve regional connectivity, it added.
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