Various projects involving over Rs 19,100 crore of assistance by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) are being implemented in the North-East region of India, a top official said on Sunday.
Besides its assistance in strengthening infrastructure, the agency is looking at social development projects with a focus on medical infrastructure and enhancing livelihoods, JICA Chief Representative in India Mitsunori Saito said.
“We have several projects in various stages of implementation in the NE region.
“Some projects have been going on for five-six years, while some are relatively new. There are many projects, like bridges, which take longer (time) to complete,” Saito told PTI on the sidelines of a conclave here.
He said the JICA is looking for providing financial assistance in social development projects in the region.
It signed an agreement with the Centre in March this year to provide Japanese Official Development Assistance (ODA) loan amounting to approximately Rs 2,942 crore for the Assam Health System Strengthening project.
“We will invest in hospital extension and procuring of sophisticated medical equipment in Assam. We will offer similar support to such projects in other states also, if it comes through,” the JICA official said, adding that the agency is also focused on natural resource management in the North-East region.
“We are not only looking at forestation but also upgrading the livelihoods of people who are dependent on forests,” he said.
On delay in execution of some JICA-funded projects in Assam’s largest city Guwahati, Saito said, “There are various reasons for such delays. There are issues with clearance, land acquisitions, etc. Problems arise even after the construction starts…we are hopeful that the projects will be completed soon.” He will visit some sites of the ongoing projects in Guwahati.
Speaking at the ‘Natural Allies in Development and Interdependence’ conclave here, Saito said the “official development assistance (ODA) of approximately 314 billion yen (over Rs 19,100 crore) has been made in ongoing projects in the North Eastern region by the JICA”.
The assistance was provided for capacity enhancement of 14 regional core hospitals in Assam, improvement of road network connectivity in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram, and hydroelectric power station in Meghalaya.
The agency has provided assistance in forest management in several states of the region and also in agriculture and irrigation (technical cooperation) in Mizoram.
Saito said there is huge potential in boosting intra-regional trade in South Asia, underlining that the quantum of business done between India and Bangladesh through the North Eastern region needs to be further increased.
Emphasising on value-addition of goods traded through the North-East to the neighbouring country, he said increasing trade between India and Bangladesh should contribute to the inclusive development of the entire region.
Along with improving physical connectivity, easier customs clearance through the use of technology needs to be focused on enhancing trade.
Saito pledged the support of JICA in capacity building through the transfer of know-how and technology for the purpose.