Transport and Trade in North-East India
Early in history, Brahmaputra and Barak, the two principal rivers of North-East India, served as the main arteries of transport. Boats, for a long time, were the principal mode of travel and transport. During the medieval period, several east–west land routes, known in Assamese as Alis in Brahmaputra plain, both to the north and south were opened. The 560 km long northern route, known as Gohain Kamal Ali, was built by the Koch kings in the mid-sixteenth century. Similarly, many routes were laid by the Ahom kings, principally in south Brahmaputra plain. However, there was hardly any wheeled transport in the region till late nineteenth or early twentieth century. The arrival of the British changed things. They connected Assam with the Bay of Bengal by a metre gauge railway between Digboi in the North-Eastern corner of Assam and Chittagong, a port in Bengal. The hilly terrain of the region has always been a problem in laying down an efficient network of transport. With the building of several bridges over Brahmaputra in Assam and the conversion of the existing metre gauge routes into broad gauge, Assam has been linked with all parts of India. A noteworthy fact is that the region has a relatively dense network of airports and air services. With the international airport at Guwahati and the proposed Trans-Asia road network, North-East India may be very effectively linked with Southeast Asia, to its economic advantage.
The traditional trade of the region is replaced with the export of tea, petroleum and petroleum products, silk and silk products and a variety of products of cottage industries. North-East India imports a lot many things from other parts of India, especially machinery, road transport equipment, textile products, pharmaceuticals and food products.
KeywordsRailway Line Railway Network Hilly State Northern Bank Brahmaputra Valley
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