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'India wants good ties with neighbours'

By Prabir Sil

AGARTALA, Jan 6 - Union Minister for Industries and Commerce Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to increase the level of Indo-Bangla trade volume for mutual benefits.

Inaugurating the Land Customs Station (LCS) at Sonamura�s Srimantapur, Sitharaman said the Union Government has been leaving no stone unturned to consolidate bilateral ties with the neighbouring countries.

Asserting that the Centre plans to restore waterway navigation with Bangladesh by connecting Gomati river with Bangladesh�s Meghna, she said Tripura has the potentiality to become a gateway to South East Asian nations.

Referring to Chief Minister Manik Sarkar�s request for constructing a bridge over river Feni in South Tripura district, Sitharaman said she would take up the issue with the Ministry officials to make the process easier.

�Once the bridge is constructed, Tripura will have an golden opportunity to access Chittagong port in Bangladesh, which is only 72 km from the State�s border�, she said.

Sitharaman said the Centre wants good relations with South East Asian nations � Singapore, Japan, Malaysia by expanding trade, business and people-to-people contact.

�Since Tripura is a landlocked State, the Ministry will consider the demands placed by the Chief Minister for the benefit of the State�, she said.

Sitharaman said the State Government has demanded to establish two more border haats along the Indo-Bangla border. �Since two border haats are doing well in Tripura, I will consider the demand for setting up two new border haats�, she said amidst applause from the gathering.

On the suspension of North East Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy (NEIIPP), Sitharaman said it has not been suspended rather the Ministry of Industries and Commerce is trying to come with an alternative policy.

In his speech, the Chief Minister laid stress on exploring waterway connectivity with Bangladesh for promotion of trade and commerce. �A person from Tripura is required to travel a long way � around 1,600 km to reach mainland of the country and most of the people of the State don�t have the ability to avail the air service. In such a scenario, waterways, rail connectivity with Bangladesh will prove immensely beneficial for the State�, he pointed out.

Sarkar continued, �The State Government has sent a proposal to the Centre to sanction outlay for constructing a bridge over river Feni in South Tripura district. If this is done, the State will have an opportunity to access Chittagong port in Bangladesh.�

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