The neighbouring nation offers unexplored avenues of economic exchange ranging from tourism to power
SHILLONG: Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on Tuesday embarked on a 4-day tour to Bangladesh. Along with him there will also be a 22-member delegation who embarked on a 700-km road trip to Bangladesh dubbed “Connecting Borders”.
Apart from Conrad, others in the delegation are three Cabinet Ministers – Lakhmen Rymbui, Sniawbhalang Dhar and Banteidor Lyngdoh – and also entrepreneurs, officials and tour operators.
The entered Bangladesh through Dawki border and headed towards Sylhet.
On the way, the Chief Minister and the delegate stopped at Jaintiapur – the erstwhile summer capital of the Jaintia kingdom.
The Indian delegation visited the one of the last remaining ruins of the Jaintia kingdom, which has been neglected by successive Bangladeshi Government. According to a statement from the CMO the purpose of the visit is to deepen the relationships between Meghalaya and Bangladesh across many sectors and to build networks that are mutually beneficial.
“Meghalaya aspires to be a prosperous State by 2030. To achieve this goal, the State Government has put together a clear strategy that capitalises on our core strengths while developing new capabilities for growth and development. Bangladesh is an important partner in our development journey,” the statement from the CMO stated.
The statement also says that the gateway to South East Asia, Bangladesh offers us hitherto unexplored avenues of economic exchange ranging from tourism to power.
Meanwhile the statement also says that rapidly growing market, Bangladesh has been a destination for exports from Meghalaya, including coal, limestone and boulder stone.
“The Government intends to further improve the border trade through the two-existing border Haats at Kalaichar and Balat and to set up new border Haats,” the statement said.
In terms of what Meghalaya can give to Bangladesh, the CMO states that in tourism sector the state offers, pristine hill stations, rich culture and music, exciting adventure sports and serene eco-tourism venues.
“By strengthening cooperation with tour operators of Meghalaya and Bangladesh and developing new historic circuits, Meghalaya government aims to double the tourist footfalls from Bangladesh in the next two years,” the CMO said.
It also states that Meghalaya is blessed with the abundance of natural resources and congenial environment for natural and organic farming.
“To build a resilient future for the farmers of the state, the government aims to increase exports of niche agricultural and horticultural products to neighbouring countries, especially Bangladesh,” the statement added.
The CMO also said that power sector is another opportunity with currently, Meghalaya has been able to tap only 10 per cent of the 3400 MW hydropower potential.
The plan is to significantly increase this capacity by 2022 with the advent of six new medium and large hydro-power projects. Bangladesh is an important potential market for power from Meghalaya.
Lastly, CMO stated that the excellent educational institutions of Shillong can be a transformative opportunity for a young country like Bangladesh which has nearly 30 per cent of their population in the 10-24 age group.