Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday that the progress of northeastern India was “at the heart” of the country’s Act East policy, which focuses on strengthening ties with Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

“We created the Act East policy and the Northeast is at the heart of it,” Modi said, according to ANI. “The Act East policy requires increased people-to-people contact, trade ties and other relations with countries on India’s east, particularly ASEAN countries.”

Modi was speaking at the inaugural session of Global Investors’ Summit – “Advantage Assam” in Guwahati. He said India’s growth would gain momentum only when there is an all-round development of the northeast, PTI reported.

Elections are due in three northeastern states in February.

Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay was present at the event, with several Union ministers, the chief ministers of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur, and ambassadors and high commissioners of 16 countries.

Reliance to pump money into Assam

Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani, who was also present at the event, announced an investment of Rs 2,500 crore for Assam in various sectors, including retail, petroleum, telecom, tourism and sports. He said these investments would create jobs for at least 80,000 people over the next three years.

He said Reliance would increase the number of its retail outlets to 40 from two currently, and the number of petrol depots to 165 from 27 now, The Hindu reported.