The NEC was involved in the development of roads and waterways since inception. Due to demand and urgent need for improvement of Air Connectivity, up-gradation and improvement of Airports has also been taken up in addition to Road and Waterway Transport, from the 8th Plan onwards, based on the recommendations of a Committee of Secretaries of the Government of India.
Inadequate transport facility was a serious drawback that crippled the development of the region. As a result of the partition, the region suffered not only economically in the form of relatively high prices of consumer goods and a high cost economy but also by a sense of isolation from the rest of the country. Moreover, the railway network was also inadequate and it was noticed that three-fourth of the total volume of goods traffic to and from the rest of the country was transported by the railways.
The entire network east of New Bongaigaon was in meter gauge and the problems that were faced included not only insufficient railways network but also the hurdle caused by the change of gauge. The region also faced serious problems in transporting essential commodities like Cement, Steel, Food grains, Salt etc.
In order to meet the emerging needs, the NEC had organized a meeting of all Commodity Controllers, the FCI and the Railways so that the total railway capacity could be apportioned among the various commodities month by month in order to avoid shortages so that the demands of the consumer could be easily met with reasonable amount of certitude.
The NEC had also commissioned the NCAER to carry out a Regional Transport Survey to project the transport needs that in turn would help in formulating a better transport system for the region.
At the very initial stages of the Council's functioning, surveys for possible railway lines were conducted out of the NEC's fund and the NEC also took the initiative to extend the broad gauge line to Guwahati in order to avoid the bottleneck at New Bongaigaon.
The NEC had also financed the construction of roads that were termed as inter state links within the region. In the Fifth Five Year Plan, the NEC initiated the construction of 400 kms of new roads and improvement of 1100 kms of existing roads. The estimated cost for the development came to around Rs. 50 crores.
The NEC had also initiated the construction of roads for the exploration of mineral deposits in its Sixth Five Year Plan. Five such roads were included in the NEC's programme at an estimated cost of Rs. 4.41 crores.