Northeast chief ministers to visit Dhaka seeking transit facility

February 25th, 2009 - 3:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Mani Shankar AiyarAgartala, Feb 25 (IANS) A group of chief ministers from the northeastern states will visit Dhaka next month to press for transit facilities to the region via Bangladesh.
The delegation will meet Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, Trade and Commerce minister Farooq Khan and President Zillur Rahman March 4 and 5 to discuss the transit and other trade and business related matters, a senior official said here Wednesday.

The ministry of development of north eastern region (DoNER) will sponsor the first-ever chief ministers’ delegation to Bangladesh.

DoNER Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar is likely to lead the chief ministers’ delegation, which would also meet business leaders of Bangladesh.

In an interaction with reporters in Manipur capital Imphal Monday, Aiyar had said transit facilities through Bangladesh would help bypass the difficult chicken neck corridor that connects the landlocked northeast with the rest of India.

“If Dhaka provides transit facilities to India and allows the use of Chittagong international port and other ports in Bangladesh, commodities and machinery can be transported to the northeast from various parts of India and abroad, saving huge time and money,” Aiyar said.

“Investors from the ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) countries will visit the region next month to explore business opportunities,” he added.

Agartala is 1,650 km from Kolkata and 2,637 km from New Delhi via Guwahati, whereas the distance between the Tripura capital and Kolkata via Bangladesh is about 350 km.

Appreciating the initiative, Tripura Industries and Commerce Minister Jitendra Chowdhury said: “Bangladeshi traders and investors themselves are asking their government to provide transit facilities to India and increase trade and business with northeast India.”

A 21-member Bangladeshi delegation last month visited the region and stressed the need for transit facilities and enhancing business with northeast India.

Meanwhile, a report from Dhaka said India and Bangladesh are set to renew the existing inland water transit and trade pact, integrating a new port of call in Ashuganj for easy transport of Indian goods from rest of the country to the northeast through Bangladesh.

“We are planning to renew the existing water transit facilities between the two countries,” the report quoted a Bangladesh foreign ministry official as saying.

The bilateral Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade was renewed in May 2008 and is scheduled to expire next month.

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