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Majority in India’s northeast want BCIM economic corridor: Survey

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Guwahati, Nov 22 (IANS) A vast majority of informed people in northeast India feel the Bangladesh China India Myanmar (BCIM) economic corridor will benefit the region’s economy and help it tackle its endemic insurgency by providing viable livelihoods, a new survey has found.

More than 80 percent of the people asked about the economic corridor gave positive feedback about the project, according to the survey conducted by the Guwahati-based Centre for Environment Social and Policy Research (CESPR).

In the survey conducted across the seven northeastern states on what people in the region felt about the project, a sizeable majority wants the BCIM corridor to pass through their own state and they want both manufacturing units and tourism packages offered along with it.

The survey was conducted among 300 informed respondents, drawn from political parties, bureaucracy, academia and media, covering all the seven states of the region — Assam, Tripura, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh — who expressed their views on a 15-question format.

A majority, 260 respondents, believes China is no real threat and would not misuse the corridor and that such fears are indeed overplayed.

The vast majority, 256 respondents, also feels that contentious issues like drugs and weapons smuggling, even river water sharing is better addressed through an initiative such as BCIM as bilateral efforts on them have not paid dividends.

Of the 300 respondents, only 11 were not aware of the corridor and 289 said they were aware of it.

Of the 289 respondents who were aware about the project, 267 said the BCIM has the potential to benefit the northeast’s economy. Only 18 said "no" and 15 others said they were "not sure".

According to the organisation, this was the best possible way to test immediate regional responses on the issue.

"Such public attitude surveys that the CESPR proposes to undertake regularly on key issues involving the northeastern region do help provide a reasonable idea of the ‘mood of the region’," said Sabita Devi, coordinator of CESPR.

The proposed corridor will cover 1.65 million sq km, encompassing an estimated 440 million people in China’s Yunnan Province, Bangladesh, Myanmar and India through the combination of road, water and air linkages in the region.

This would facilitate the cross-border flow of people and goods, minimise overland trade obstacles, ensure greater market access and increase multilateral trade

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