Meghalaya CM debunks India's Look East Policy

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Shillong, Jun 25 (UNI) Meghalaya Chief Minister Donkupar Roy today criticised the Centre's ''Look East Policy'', saying it would not benefit the states bordering Bangladesh.

''If Meghalaya and other North Eastern states bordering Bangladesh are to improve their economy, it can only be possible through Bangladesh,''Roy told UNI here.

Roy, who propsosed a visit to Dhaka later this year with the Chief Ministers of Assam, Tripura and Mizoram, said India's Look East Policy would not benefit Meghalaya and even other NE states bordering Bangladesh as the policy itself did not specify about the NE's trade links with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

''I don't think even other NE states - Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram - bordering ASEAN can improve their economy,'' the Chief Minister said.

In this regard, Dr Roy said he had raised his concerns with Union Minister for Development of North Eastern Region Mani Shankar Aiyar on India's Look East Policy and instead urged him to improve trade ties with Bangladesh.

''I have proposed to Mr Aiyar to lead a team of Chief Ministerial delegation to visit Bangladesh during the first week of September for improving trade ties,'' he said.

Stressing on reviving the old trade ties with Bangladesh, Dr Roy, an economist himself, said, ''If Nathu La pass in Sikkim can be reopened with so much investment, there is an urgent need for Meghalaya to have trade routes to Bangladesh opened.

''Our present economy could be further improved if Bangladesh opened up its trade relations, especiallly if they allowed us to access the new mooring terminal at Chittagong Port,'' he said.

In fact, Union Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh had reiterated India's request to Bangladesh for allowing transit routes to the North-East India and highlighted that besides helping India, such routes would also provide Bangladesh with enormous trading opportunities with the North-East and thus help Bangladesh reduce its trade deficit with India even further.

India has begun modernising five land customs stations along the border with Bangladesh - Petrapole, Hilli and Changrabandha in Bengal, Agartala in Tripura and Dawki in Meghalaya - that would cost about Rs 320 crore.

Earlier, the Meghalaya government had asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to start the Tura-Dhaka and Shillong-Dhaka bus service to improve trade ties with the neighbouring country.

''We have asked the Centre to begin bus services from the state to Bangladesh,'' he added.

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