Chief Minister wants restrictions on Manipur removed

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Imphal, Nov 01 (UNI) Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh has urged the Centre to lift the Protected Area Permit (PAP) from the state.

Manipur Information Centre Joint Director Meghachandra Kongbam said here today that no foreigners were being allowed to visit the state since 1958 following imposition of the PAP which was hampering the state tourism.

Speaking at the meeting of the Chief Ministers of the North Eastern states on Look East Policy at New Delhi yesterday, the Manipur Chief Minister said, ''The existing PAP has been impeding development of tourism in the state. Even Jammu and Kashmir had a PAP regime in only certain areas and not throughout the state.'' He also demanded that Imphal should be a nodal point for connection to South East Asia.

''The economy of the NE is closely linked with South Asian countries, including Myanmar and Bangladesh. The partition of the country in 1947 changed those historical links. Opening of the border trade through Moreh at Manipur had restored bilateral trade between Manipur and Myanmar,'' Mr Singh said.

Strategically situated in the far flung corner of the vast subcontinent of India, Manipur is a natural corridor to Myanmar and to the rest of South East Asia, he added.

Describing Imphal as being an excellent potential air link centre between the NE and South East Asia in view of its proximity to Myanmar, he said a flight between Imphal and Chiangmai in Thailand could travel in only an hour.

He urged the Centre to upgrade the Imphal airport, now having night-landing facilities, into an international airport with cold storage facilities.

He also demanded to upgrade National Highways 39, 53 and 150 across the state to four-lane roads for easy flow of heavy vehicular traffic.

He urged the Centre to expedite the proposed Trans Asian Highway connecting Moreh in Manipur to Mae Sot in Thailand via Bagan in Myanmar.

Mr Singh stated that the border trading point at Moreh required good road connectivity to have enhanced trade with ASEAN countries.

Support for other trade-related infrastructure from the Assistance to States for Infrastructure Development Enterprises (ASIDE) under the Commerce Ministry was also needed.

He extended his full support to the proposed rail link from Jiribam in Manipur to Hanoi in Vietnam via Moreh.

He also urged the Centre to increase the present 22 tradable items at the border trade post in Moreh to 44.

UNI

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