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Act East Policy

Perspective on “LOOK EAST POLICY”

The Geographical location of the North Eastern Region (NER) stands itself as the most favorable location to focus on implementation of India’s Look East Policy which is stated to be India’s vision. The entire North Eastern Region is the gateway to the South East Asia. Therefore the development of communication infrastructure of the north eastern region is very important so that it can be linked to the neighboring South East Asian countries of Bangladesh Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Bhutan & China.

Major infrastructure initiative needed to connect the NE Region to the South East Asian neighbours. Ministry of Road Transport & Highways in the recent time has initiated/undertaken many major National Highway development Project in the North Eastern Region. Early completion of these projects will be much helpful towards materialisation of the Look East Policy.

The major initiatives taken up in the Highway Sector of the State are outlined below:

Development of NH 153 (Stillwell Road)

Re-opening of the Stillwell Road to link NER to Kunming, the capital City of Yunan Province of China, through Myanmar will greatly boost economy and trade activities from the region to those South East Asian countries. NH-153 forms part of this famous Stillwell Road in NER.(from Lekhapani to Jairampur- 23.00 km) & improvement of the stretch to 2 lane with Paved shoulder    (10m Carriageway) has already been completed under SARDP-NE. Government of India may consider for development and commissioning of this road from NER to China with necessary collaboration with Myanmar. Work on re-alignment of NH 37 & NH 38 for proper road link between Dibrugarh and Lekhapani has also been under implementation. Also 4-Laning of NH-37 from Dibrugarh to Numaligarh has been taken up by NHIDCL.

Development of ASEAN Highway

The road connection to South East Asian countries is also available along ASEAN Highway network that can be accessed from the existing NH-39 & NH-36 of Assam through DIMAPUR –KOHIMA-IMPHAL to reach Myanmar at the Border town of Moreh. This route assumes lot of significance as it has been envisaged to connect Thailand, Laos, Vietnam Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia along the same highway network. This will definitely change the prevailing status of economic development of the country. Of the above, 71 km of NH-36 (from km 91/0 to 162/0) has already been developed to two lane with Paved shoulders under SARDP-NE (Phase-A). The route has already been declared as Asian Highway No.1.

Connectivity to Bhutan

The NH 152 from Assam has a direct link to the Royal Kingdom of Bhutan. The NH 152 (38 km) has been developed as a two lane highway with Paved shoulder under SARDP-NE (Phase-A). Therefore there is ample scope of establishing good road connectivity from Bhutan and beyond. Recently two new National Highways viz NH No.127(C) & NH No.127(D) has been declared which will connect East West Corridor with Bhutan.

Connectivity to Bangladesh through NH-51, NH-40, NH-151, NH-44

NER has 3 (three) distinct national highways connecting the capital city of Bangladesh i.e. Dhaka. The routes are:
a) GUWAHATI-JORABAT-SHILLONG-DAUKI-SYLHET-DHAKA –This route stretches along NH 37& 40 totalling 467 km
b) GUWAHATI-JORABAT-SHILLONG-KARIMGANJ-SUTARKANDI-SYLHET-DHAKA –This route stretches along NH 37, 40,44&151 totalling 657 km
c) GUWAHATI-PAIKAN-DALU-DHAKA –This route stretches along NH 37, 51 totalling 261 km in the Indian Territory only, of which the entire 22 km of NH-51 (Assam portion) has already been developed to 2- lane with paved shoulder by PWD under SARDP-NE.
 Development of the above routes will be very beneficial for International Trade and Commerce, and will also create new opportunities.
5) Connectivity with Republic of China through Arunachal Pradesh :
a) The NH-52 in the north bank of Brahmaputra from Baihata Chariali to Dhemaji is a major road connecting Arunachal Pradesh. This Road can be further developed and extended through Tibet, Republic of China through TAWANG of Arunachal Pradesh.
b)The proposed 4-lane connectivity of Itanagar from East West Corridor near Nagaon is in advance stage of implementation. DPR and feasibility report has already been submitted to Ministry of Road Transport & Highways. This route could be utilized to explore the possibility of establishing a road link directly with China. Feasibility in this regard may be assessed.

Connectivity of NER with rest of the country

The following points also need urgent attention so that development initiatives related to LOOK EAST policy have a better impact concerning all layers of society.

  1. East West Corridor is on the verge of completion. There is another route of NH-31 from Boxirhat (Assam Bengal Border) connecting the entire North East. These two National Highways can adequately and efficiently connect all potential river routes through mighty river Brahmaputra.
  2. To rationalize, simplify, and modify the rules & procedures hindering free flow of traffic on roads and highways to ensure hassle free movement particularly at interstate borders and at international Borders.
  3. Urgent steps should be taken for connecting all the State Capitals of NER with 4-laning roads.
  4. Gauge conversion to Murkakchelang on the North Bank is nearing completion. BG connectivity already exist upto Tinsukia in Upper Assam. Gauge conversion in Lumding – Badarpur Section is under construction. These Railway route can be improved with double line facility to cater the present day demand for smooth movement of goods and services.
  5. River route through Brahmaputra may be developed with river Ports at suitable locations like Guwahati, Silghat, Jorhat, Dibrugarh etc.

Industrial Growth of North Eastern Region

The Government of India’s Look East Policy is to focus on Industrial development of the North Eastern Region as most of the South East Asian Countries are closely linked to the North Eastern Region. In this regard some routes of internal connectivity which are presently either under developed or Missing links are to be developed:

  1. There are five or six major missing links in the State which has practically retarded the economic development of the State, in fact that of the North East as a whole. A few of the missing links have been already notified as National Highway notably:
    (1)    Srirampur - Dhubri – Phulbari – Tura newly declared as NH-127B.
    (2)    Dhola – Sadiya Bridge extension of NH to Rowing – work recently completed.
    (3)    Trans Arunachal Highway – work is in progress,
    (4)    2 Nos. National Highway to Bhutan NH-127C & NH-127D.
    (5)    Gohpur – Numaligarh including Bridge over river Brahmaputra.
  2. The following missing links need immediate attention
    1)    Alternate route from Barak Valley (Silchar) to Guwahati via Harrangajao, Turuk, Neille.
    (2)    Disangmuckh near Sivsagar to Tekelipota – Dhakuakhana – North Lakhimpur – Majuli.
    (3)    Proper Upgradation of Dhodar Ali which connects NH-39.

It is urgently required to connect all the above major missing links in a framed manner within next Ten years, so that the State can have an integrated Highway network. Industrial Growth of North Eastern Region will be effective only on completion of the above missing links.


Construction of East West Corridor in Assam will be completed by NHAI in 2017. Thus thorough 4-lane connectivity from Srirampur (Assam Bengal Border) to Silchar covering a distance of 670 km will be available for uninterrupted Highway traffic which can be properly utilised for connectivity to Myanmar through Moreh shortly. The intervening 60 km NH-53 is also under development to 2-lane with pave shoulder (10m carriageway) under SARDP-NE Phase-A partly under PWD and partly under BRO. For augmenting better economic growth, standard of living, per capita income etc. of the people of the North Eastern Region the route for connectivity to Myanmar within Assam are given below.

Route –I

S. N.NH NumberFromToLength
131(C), 31, 37, 36, 54SrirampurSilchar670 km
253SilcharJiribam60 km
339JiribamMoreh319 km

Route –II

S. N.NH No.FromToLength
131(C), 31, 37SrirampurNagaon382 km
236NagaonDabaka38 km
336DabakaDimapur123 km

Route –III

S. N.NH NoFromToLength
131(C), 31, 37SrirampurNagaon382 km
237NagaonNumaligarh130 km
339NumaligarhDimapur107 km
439DimapurMoreh317 km