Shillong (Meghalaya): The Ministry of External Affairs, the European Union Delegation to India and the Asian Confluence jointly organized the India-EU Connectivity Conference in Meghalaya on June 1-2 to explore investments in northeastern states.
Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma and Minister of State for External Affairs (MoS) Rajkumar Ranjan Singh on Thursday inaugurated the conference, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a press release.
The objective of the conference was to explore connectivity investments and to identify concrete projects in northeastern states of India and with India's neighbours - Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh for implementation under the India-EU Connectivity Partnership, which was launched during the India-EU leaders meeting held in May 2021.
In his address, Rajkumar Ranjan Singh stressed the importance placed by the Indian government on connectivity initiatives, both within the country and as part of India's Development Partnership abroad. He highlighted the opportunities for India-EU Triangular Development Cooperation in South Asia and the Indo-Pacific.
On June 2, Rajkumar Ranjan Singh tweeted, "Participated in the inaugural of the India EU Connectivity Conference along with CM of Meghalaya @SangmaConrad. Highlighted the tremendous opportunities for India-EU Triangular Development Cooperation in South Asia & the Indo-Pacific in this regard."
Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma in his address stressed the importance of interstate and cross-border connectivity for the North East region as a whole and for Meghalaya in particular. He referred to India's 'Act East' Policy, within which Meghalaya has an 'Act South' Policy focussing on the need to improve connectivity between Meghalaya and Bangladesh, according to an MEA press release.
Sangma suggested a 'Zonal Approach' to connectivity, involving neighbouring states catering to each state's needs. Technical sessions on the themes; Digital Connectivity, Energy Connectivity, Transport Connectivity and Connectivity and Beyond focusing on projects linking the Northeast with India's neighbourhood, as part of the 'Act East' and 'Neighbourhood First' policies were held on the second day of the conference.
According to the MEA press release, sessions witnessed participation from senior officials of the Government of India, the EU Commission, governments of northeastern states, the North Eastern Council, stakeholders from Nepal, Bangladesh and executives from the private sector with a presence in the region.
The MEA in the press release said, "Deliberations in the panel on 'Connectivity & Beyond' focused on the hurdles and bottlenecks faced by these projects, and on ways to ameliorate their impacts."
The panel on 'Digital Connectivity' focused on improving the network penetration in the region by deploying infrastructure and simultaneously building the capacity of the various stakeholders to ensure meaningful connectivity.
During the conference, developing localized off-grid solutions through community participation was stressed as the way forward to promote 'Energy Connectivity' in the region.
Experts deliberating on 'Transport Connectivity' lauded the several ongoing transformative infrastructure developments in road, rail and waterway connections in the region. They also suggested that there was a need for more. Deliberations also focussed on identifying the right projects to source external funding.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in the press release said, "Going forward, a study on the existing EU Member States driven projects would be brought out by the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS). MEA, the EU Delegation and other stakeholders such as RIS would identify suitable projects for joint implementation under the framework of the India-EU Connectivity Partnership."
The MEA further said, "It will be recollected that the first-ever India-EU Trade and Technology Council Ministerial meeting held in Brussels on 16 May 2023 had prioritised - Connectivity Partnership - as one of the important focus areas of cooperation between India and the EU." —ANI