Dawki, Indo-Bangla Border, Sep 24 (UNI) Union Minister of State in-charge Commerce Jairam Ramesh today reiterated the Centre's commitment to creating modern infrastructure to improve border trade, commerce and tourism in North Eastern states.
An amount of Rs 900 crore had been allocated for setting up 14 Integrated Land Customs (ILC), seven of which would come up in the Northeastern region, Mr Ramesh said while launching the country's first BSNL mobile service in the border areas at Dawki in Meghalaya, being developed as one of the seven ILCs on the Indo-Bangla border.
The Ministry of Defence had earlier barred mobile telephone facilities within ten km of the border citing security concerns.
Mr Ramesh, however, said the restriction had now been relaxed so that the people in the border areas were brought under the mobile service.
" Connectivity is critical to trade and commerce, " the Minister said.
And as India's "Look East" policy gathered momentum and the key infrastructure was upgraded, the Northeastern region will soon get integrated with the regional (Asian) economy, he told reporters.
Pointing out that the economy of the region could be substantially improved through upscaling the bilateral trade with Bangladesh, the Union Minister said in the last financial year (2006-07), the total volume of trade (import and export) between the two countries was Rs 6800 crore, and the bulk of which (75-80 per cent) was transacted through Petrapol ILC in West Bengal.
The Minister said the ILCs would be completed in a phased manner in the next three years. In the first phase, four ILCs were being built one each in West Bengal at Petrapol (Indo-Bangla trade), at Raxol (Indo-Nepal), at Moreh in Manipur (Indo-Myanmar) and Wagah (Indo-Pakistan).
Besides infrastructure building, the Minister also announced a host of plans for developing identified region-specific sectors, especially Information Technology, food processing, floriculture and organic horticulture products.