Union Minister Nitin Gadkari today laid the foundation stone for a "state-of-the-art" multi-modal logistics park in Assam's Bongaigaon district that will be developed at a cost of Rs 1,171 crore and under the ambitious Bharatmala Pariyojana scheme; the ceremony was conducted via video conferencing because of social distancing amid the Covid pandemic.
Mr Gadkari was joined by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Commerce Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary, who were both present at the construction site in Jogighopa, where the Assam government has transferred 200 acres of land belonging to the Ashok Paper Mill for this project.
Speaking from Delhi today Mr Gadkari said the project, once completed, would generate around 20 lakh (direct and indirect) jobs. The multi-modal logistics parks (MMLP), he also said, would be built over two phases that are expected to be finished by 2023.
Designed to improve the transport (aggregation and distribution) of freight and provide integrated storage and warehousing support, MMLPs are an initiative of the government to bring down the cost of logistics in the country.
In June the Asian Development Bank, in a report on MMLPs, said the logistics space in India was expected to be valued at over $215 billion by the end of 2020 alone.
Mr Gadkari also said his ministry had allocated around Rs 80,000 crore to develop roads in Assam and help improve infrastructure and connectivity. He said Rs 5,000 crore had already been earmarked for the Dhubri-Phulbari bridge (construction on which will start within three months) and that funds had also been set aside to upgrade the Guwahati-Jogighopa road.
The Union Minister also said he would take steps to dredge the Brahmaputra and Barak rivers to boost river trade in the region.
Chief Minister Sonowal said the people of Lower Assam had felt neglected in the past because of the lack of industrial development. But, he said, with the MMLP that would change.
Mr Sonowal praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for prioritising development of the northeast of India, as a result of which, he claimed, global investment worth Rs 79,000 crore had been received since a 2018 summit.
He also said the centre had taken steps to set up a bio fuel plant in Numaligarh in Golghat district and that Rs 42,000 crore had been invested in the state's petroleum sector alone.