‘Connection’ is only barrier, says M’laya CM 

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Team Conrad in Bangladesh to explore trade avenues

SHILLONG, Nov 6 (Newmai): With Bangladesh reciprocating to Meghalaya’s notion that there is a vast opportunity for mutual benefit through large scale trade and commerce, Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma has observed that the only barrier that is preventing this from happening is the absence of ‘connection’.

It may be noted here that Conrad Sangma is leading a delegation from Meghalaya on a visit to Bangladesh to explore possibilities of engagements with the neighbouring country in a number of sectors.

On the second day of this visit on Wednesday, the delegation met the members of the Chambers of Commerce at Sylhet.

“We got to understand that they also mutually feel that there is a huge opportunity for trade and commerce but it is the unavailability of connection that is a barrier,” Conrad said after the meeting.

He also said that a suggestion has been made for a connection between Sylhet and Shillong through road or airway in the near future.

“This will be considered through proper consultation with our Central Government,” Conrad said in this regard. Elaborating on the vast opportunity in trade and commerce, Conrad pointed out that out of 10 billion dollars of the trade in Bangladesh, Meghalaya only contributed 0.7% of the trade with the country and though Meghalaya shares 443 km of border, strong cultural and historical ties with Bangladesh, “We have not been able to figure out how we can improve things.”

“There is definitely a gap that we have not been paying attention to and there are very low-hanging fruits and just basic connection between the individuals and the company facilitated by meetings like these can be the solution,” he added.

Conrad also pointed out the vast opportunity in the tourism sector. “There are small measures that needs to be taken for things to improve and this connection between tour operators, hoteliers and other stakeholders will ensure that we have traffic moving both ways and allow citizens of Sylhet to visit Meghalaya and vice versa,” he said.

On the issue of the coal trade in Meghalaya which has been banned by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), Conrad said, “The state is on the process to ensure that coal mining is done in a scientific manner and things are moving in a positive direction after being stuck for quite a few years due to the issues highlighted because of which it could not be taken forward”.

He also said that his government has been working hard in a phased manner for the last one and a half years to ensure that coal mining is resumed in Meghalaya albeit while also keeping environmental concerns in mind. He added that the government is similarly working on issues related to trade in limestone and boulders.

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