Shillong, Aug 19 (UNI) With the Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA) government pushing hard to revive trade links with Bangladesh, a 16-member delegation of Bangladeshi importers will visit the state to strengthen trade relations.
The delegation, under the aegis of the Sylhet Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), will meet Meghalaya Chief Minister Donkupar Roy on August 21 and Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi later.
The delegation, led by SCCI senior vice-president Nazim Hussain, also includes prominent Khasi businesswoman Narola Tynsong from Bangladesh.
''We will discuss the strategy to further strengthen trade ties with the visiting Bangladeshi delegation,'' Dr Roy told UNI over the phone here today.
Mr Roy is a staunch advocate of bettering ties with neighbouring Bangladesh and has taken up the issue with the Centre.
He also suggested that an enhanced trade link with Bangladesh was a better option than the much-talked about Look East Policy.
''Economic links with neighbouring Bangladesh need to be put on the fast track for overall development of the state,'' Dr Roy said.
Friendly trade links with the neighbouring nation would be restored, as in the past, when border haats (weekly markets) were thriving business centres for residents of the border areas, he added.
In fact, the NE states, especially those having international borders and long historical trade, commerce and cultural links with East Bengal (now Bangladesh), recognise the fact that India's much hyped 'Look East Policy' will have little impact without taking Bangladesh into consideration, he stated.
Chief Ministers of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura had urged Union Minister for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Mani Shankar Aiyar for a joint visit to Dhaka to promote trade, commerce, tourism and cultural exchanges, that will benefit both the nations.
Recently, the Union Minister asked all Northeastern states to lobby hard to convince the Centre about the dire need for better economic ties and transit facilities through Bangladesh.
''One way of cultural exchange and learning about each other could be by holding 'Meghalaya Festival' in major cities of Bangladesh like Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet,'' the chief Minister added.
In turn Meghalaya could also hold similar festival of Bangladesh in Shillong and Tura.
India has begun modernising customs stations along the border with Bangladesh, in Petrapole, Hilli and Changrabandha in Bengal, Agartala in Tripura and Dawki in Meghalaya, that would cost about Rs 320 crore, he informed.
Earlier, the Meghalaya government had asked Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to start the Tura-Dhaka and Shillong-Dhaka bus services to improve trade ties with Bangladesh.
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