SHILLONG, April 26 - Experts at the two-day �Economic Cooperation Dialogue in Eastern South Asia� here today advocated that the borders be opened and paperwork related to import and export reduced for faster regional growth.
Citing an example, Biswajit Chakraborty, North East Head, Federation of India Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) explained that Bangladesh, which imports boulders from Meghalaya, exports the same to Tripura. Bangladesh is forced to import this building material due to its scarcity in that country and likewise Tripura too has scarcity of boulders. Tripura is, however, not importing it from resource-rich Meghalaya and instead it is buying boulders from Bangladesh due to sheer convenience, Chakraborty said.
�The boulders from Meghalaya are re-exported to Agartala. Everyday about 150-200 boulder-laden trucks from Bangladesh enter Agartala, along with cement,� Chakraborty said at the two-day Economic Cooperation Dialogue in Eastern South Asia here.
There are numerous reports on how Bangladeshis are extracting boulders from near Dawki from the Umgnot River and other streams and rivers in the area. There are also some stone quarries, which are close to the international border on the Bangladesh side in the area. It is, however, not clear how much of these boulders Bangladesh channels into formal trade, but the volume of this informal trade is huge going by the reports.
It makes economic sense for Tripura to get resources from Bangladesh rather than directly from Meghalaya. Shillong and Agartala are separated by a circuitous route of 464 km or a punishing drive of 15 hours. On the other hand, the distance from Dawki to Agartala is 427 km. Moreover, land custom stations like Akhaura (Bangladesh) and Agartala are just over 9 km or 25 minutes drive.
Chakraborty said that Bangladesh, which has no limestone to produce cement, has started export of cement to India some years back. In fact most of the limestone is imported from Meghalaya. This was possible due to the setting up of the largest conveyor belts in the world by French cement manufacturing giant Lafarge, to feed its manufacturing plant in Chattak, Bangladesh.