THE GROWTH POTENTIAL OF
Submitted By: Sanjana Kacholia
• India’s northeast region (NER) is endowed with huge untapped natural resources .The region comprises of
Arunachal Pradesh,Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim,Tripura and Assam
• India’s north east region (NER) is endowed with huge untapped natural resources.
• A key constraint to the growth has been poor infrastructure and limited connectivity, both within the
region as well as with the rest of the country.
• For instance, the Naga insurgence, which started in the 1950s, is one of the oldest unresolved armed
conflicts in the world. Opening up and augmenting trade with the neighbouring countries such as
Bangladesh,Myanmar and through Myanmar to South East Asia will also help in realising the full potential
of the region.
• Exploitation of the large hydro potential in the NER could be used for exporting to the power deficit
northern and western regions of the country.
• Infrastructure development is a fundamental prerequisite for realizing the vision of progress towards
peace and prosperity and for creating an investment climate and market development in the North
• However, in spite of being endowed with vast natural resources in terms of forests, biological diversity,
hydroelectricity, the region has remained largely underdeveloped.
• With more than 98 percent international
border,the region has several unique
features:fertile land, abundant waterresources,
evergreen dense forests, high and dependable
rainfall,mega biodiversity and agriculture-
• The pattern of agricultural growth has remained
uneven across regions. The states continue to
be net importers of food grains even for their
• Even though, it accounts for about 8% of the
total geographical area of the country, it has
only 3.4% of land for agricultural purposes
• Reasons include a lack of appropriate strategies
for the development of natural resources,
inadequate infrastructure facilities and low
adoption of improved technology.
• Rice is the major staple crop commonly grown in
the NER states. But the rice-based agriculture
system has failed to provide required household
• Tea is a commercial crop grown entirely by
Specific Problems of Agriculture in NER
• Adherence to traditional agricultural practices
• Low adoption of modern rice varieties (HYVs) of
• Problems of property right
• High vulnerability to natural calamities, and
degradation of prime agricultural land
• Over-dependence on monsoonal rains with
poor irrigation infrastructure.
• Low use of fertilizers .
• Weak institutional credit delivery system (per
hectare credit disbursement is one-fifth of the
• Negligible agro-processing and post-harvest
• Poor transport and market infrastructure (road
• Poor monitoring and accountability of public
service delivery system
• Shifting cultivation: This slash-and-burn
system of cultivation is a unique feature of
the region, which coversnearly 2 million
hectares area . Being a socially-preferred
practice, instead of banning,it needs a
focussed system based R&D to improve the
overall productivity and food security.
• Rain-water harvesting: The NER is endowed
with high rainfall, but rain-water is neither
conserved nor harvested to increase crop
yields and intensify agriculture. Appropriate
watershed programmes with people’s
participation need to be encouraged to
harness the untapped benefits.
• Crop diversification
• The region, which is heavily dependent on
the agriculture sector, needs a green
revolution to eradicate poverty and boost its
economy. Such a green revolution must be
adequately backed by financial institutions,
marketing functionaries and R&D.
POWER AND RESOURCES
• The region is endowed with perennial
rivers and water bodies, therefore, it
has a huge hydroelectricity
potential.This potential, if tapped well,
can be used to export power to other
regions of the country.
• The spill-over benefits will be the
development of infrastructure such as
roads, communications, and electricity
supply to remote hilly areas, resulting in
better quality of life.
• CIL should take up development of new
coal mines particularly in Assam and
Meghalaya to meet the coal
requirement for new thermal power
projects being proposed in the NE
• A clear, coherent and sustainable power policy
may be made especially for the NER which will
take into account the special characteristics and
needs of the Region.
• The issue of gas availability and pricing may be
appropriately addressed for exploiting the
substantial gas reserves in the Region for power
• Transport infrastructure is of great
importance in the region to strengthen its
integration within itself, with the rest of the
country and its neighbours effectively within
and out of the region.
• It is a vital input for the proposed shift from
subsistence agriculture to cash crop based
farming, as well as the planned development
of industry and the service sector.
• Most of the area in the region is hilly and
undulating with low population densities,
accompanied by low per area production of
• In the hilly terrain like NER development of
inland waterways is expensive.
• Rail connectivity in such a terrain is not only
time consuming but would need prohibitive
investments, probably beyond the means of
the nation. It is road connectivity which
would play a dominant role in fulfilling the
transportation needs of the public. Air
connectivity would also play a role for a
limited segment of people and goods.
• In planning road networks under SARDP particular attention should be given to roads, bridges and
underpasses with adequate design capacity considering transportation of heavy ODCs to power
• Much more attention should be given to inland water routes as a method of connectivity within the
region, the existing potential of which is largely untapped.
• The major road programmes that are being undertaken in the region are as follows:
1. National Highway Development Programme (NHDP)-
II proposes to link the east-west corridor beginning at Porbandar, Gujarat to the NE through a 678 km
four-lane highway connecting Silchar to Srirampur via LumdingDaboka-Nagaon-Guwahati in Assam.
This has been entrusted to the NHAI under the NHDP phase-II.
2. NHDP-III proposes to widen 1,051 km stretches of various NHs to improve connectivity of state capital
3. The Arunachal package envisages improving the connectivity to the Arunachal dramatically.
4. Special Accelerated Road Development Programme
for North East (SARDP-NE).
• With the emergence of globalisation, economic integration
among nations has become a necessity.
• Cross-border trade is the most important medium of the
current wave of globalisation. In this process, knowingly or
unknowingly the north east economy has emerged in to a
new dimension of cross-border trade (informal trade) with
neighbouring nations and that increases social welfare of the
poor masses of the region. Under the “Look East” policy, India
seeks economic cooperation with ASEAN and other
neighbouring countries through the gateway of the region.
• The North East is located at a crossroads between three major
economies – East Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia.
• This geopolitical advantage, has however, not really translated
into the region’s economic development. Out of India’s export
volume of about $254.4 billion, the Northeast’s share is only
about $0.01 billion.
The broad racial differences between India and
its Northeast and the tenuous geographical link
contributed to a sense of alienation, a feeling
of ‘otherness’ that subsequently gave rise to a
political culture of violent separatism. Further,
Northeast India is home to more than 50 ethnic
rebel groups – a few demanding complete
secession from India, others fighting for ethnic
identities and homelands and some running the
insurgency as an industry to spin easy money
without any political ideology. Despite their
resilience the narratives of rebel organizations
are often vague and confused. The unsaid but
universal truth about an insurgency situation is
that there is always much more than meets the
eye behind its dynamics. The contributory
causes are many including inconsistencies in
history, economic structures, development and
identity alienation. It is also closely related to
administrative weaknesses and incompetence,
but above all official corruption that continually
trample upon all sense of fair play and justice.
The impact of Insurgency activities
Problems and Untapped Resources Solutions
Dominance of rice and tea.
Wrong agricultural practices(Slash and burn)
Improvement in rice production
Untapped Energy resource Development of new coal mines
Tapping the hydroelectric potential of the region
Issue of gas availiblity to be considered
Connectivity and transport Improve facilities for night navigation
and mechanical handling
Cargo vessels and terminals should be increased to meet the
Construction of public roads to link the hydel power project
Four-lane connectivity to Itanagar
Two-lane connectivity of district headquarters
Border trade The border haats would be allowed to sell local
agricultural and horticultural products, small agriculture
and household goods. No local tax would
be imposed on the trading, and both Indian as well as
Bangladeshi currencies will be accepted.
Insurgency A peaceful solution to insurgency in the Northeast could be
possible through negotiations and a spirit of sacrifice
• Problems and solutions with their impacts
– Power and resources
– Transport Infrastructure
– Border trade