Addressing a "NADI (River) Conclave 2022" in Guwahati, Sitharaman said that the connectivity with Bangladesh and other Southeast Asian nations can be built and developed culturally in terms of riverine civilisation.
"Government of India is fully committed to our Neighbourhood First Policy as much as developing the northeast as the Gateway to the entire South East Asian nations," she said.
According to Sitharaman, the connectivity projects in the northeastern region include, 20 railway projects worth Rs 74,000 crore for 2,011 km, 4,000 km of roads at a total cost of Rs 58,000 crore.
India's External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar, his Bangladesh counterpart A.K. Abdul Momen and Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma also spoke in Saturday's inaugural session of "NADI Convlave-2022" organised by Shillong-based think tank and research group 'Asian Confluence'.
Sitharaman also appreciated the organisers - Asian Confluence - for focusing on the five Cs which are - Commerce, Culture, Connectivity, Conservation and Capacity Building.
"The organisers have kept five Cs as its focus areas. I was so impressed that they could pick up all that Cs and actually these Cs focus on those critical areas in which enough focus has to be given. If NADI and the name itself is talking about inter-connectivity, it certainly builds on culture and commerce," she added.
Sitharaman added, "So these five Cs give us the five pillars that this conclave will have to focus on. These Cs essentially capture all the areas which are so critical for the Northeast."
The Union Finance Minister also mentioned the Government of India's projects to enhance the connectivity in northeast India and its neighbouring countries.
The Assam Chief Minister shared the vision of the state government of developing Assam as a river cruise hub in Asia.
"We've made our best efforts to give tangible shape to our connectivity with Bangladesh and ASEAN nations through road, rail and air," Sarma said.
At this special session of the "NADI Conclave 2022", Assam Finance Minister Ajanta Neog, Assam Chief Secretary Jishnu Baruah, Chairman of Governing Council, Asian Confluence M.P. Bezbaruah and Executive Director of Asian Confluence Sabyasachi Dutta were also present.
High Commissioner of Singapore to India Simon Wong, Ambassador of Cambodia to India Ung Sean, Assam Minister of Trade, Industry and Act East Affairs Chandra Mohan Patowary, were among others who attended the two-day conclave.