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National security should be considered to open Nathu La : Nar

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Gangtok, Mar 1 (UNI) The Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee today urged the Centre to take national security into consideration while taking a decision on the reopening of the Nathu La Trade route for border trade.

Talking to newsmen, party president Nar Bahadur Bhandari said, " We are not opposed to the reopening of the trade route, but the Central government should ensure that national security is not compromised. " The former Chief Minister alleged that neither would the reopening of the trade route benefit the state nor the nation.

The Union government had signed an agreement with China in June, 2003, during former Prime Minister A B Vajpayee's visit to reopen the trade route, closed since the 1962 war.

The Sikiim government had been insisting on the reopening of the trade route for quite sometimes now. The trade route was reported to be reopened sometimes this year.

Mr Bhandari said infrastructure for the possible opening of the trade route had not yet been developed. The existing road could not take the burden of 100 to 500 trucks.

He said the state also lacked a good hotel and an airport and allegd that the cheap Chinese goods would flood the Indian market and affect the Indian traders and manufacturers.

Mr Bhandari also criticised the recommendations of the study group which suggested to give trade license to the Sikkimese subjects only for the initial five years and described as discriminatory and ant-national.

Mr Bhandari alleged that the state government had arbitrarily and illegally changed some rules of the the Right to Information Act in a bid to discourage the citizens to seek information on the activities of the state government.

He said while the Central law prescribed for an application fee of Rs 10 and Rs 2 for each of information, the state government in a notificaation had fixed the application fee at Rs 100 and Rs 5 for each page of information.

Mr Bhandari criticised the recent budget of the state government, saying it did not contain anything about some burning problems of the state.

The budget, he said, did not contain anything about water management, a major problem of the state, unemployment, largescale destruction of big cardamaom and orange, two main cash crops of the state.

UNI BD SJC RN 1702

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