SHILLONG, June 17 - Steeped in history, favourable climate and natural beauty, Meghalaya State Capital Shillong is vying for a Presidential Retreat, after Shimla and Hyderabad.
Chief Minister Conrad Sangma during his recent meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at New Delhi made a strong case in favour of Shillong having the third Presidential Retreat in the country.
At present there are two Presidential Retreats in India, one at Shimla, Mashobra and the other at Hyderabad, Bolaram. In Shimla, it�s known as the Retreat Building and in Hyderabad it�s called the Rashtrapati Nilayam. Each year, the President spends about a fortnight in each of these Retreats.
According to the Rastrapati Bhavan, these two Retreats �are indicative of the integrative role of the Office of the President of India in our country. These locations, one in north and another in south, symbolise unity of our country and unity of our diverse cultures and people.�
Sangma said here today that he reasoned with the PM during his meeting that establishing a Presidential Retreat in the North East would send a strong message of inclusiveness and also the importance the Centre accords to the NE.
�If there is a Presidential Retreat in Shillong, because Shillong was the historical capital of the North East, then we would be able to ensure the President visits the NE every year. It would send a strong message of inclusiveness and importance the Centre accords to the region,� Sangma said.
Apart from the Retreat, Sangma spoke to the Prime Minister on ways to improve trade and commerce in the region. He proposed development of an eight-lane highway between Guwahati and Chittagong port, Bangladesh to enable easier export of goods from the region.
�The nearest port Kolkata is 1,000 km away from Guwahati. If Chittagong port in Bangladesh is accessible, the distance would be 600 km from Guwahati, via Shillong and Dawki,� he said.
Sangma also suggested an alternative route between West Bengal and NE through Bangladesh. He said, Hili in West Bengal could be connected to Mahendraganj in Meghalaya through Bangladesh and the distance would be just 110 km.
The CM also suggested to the PM a �Sister State� relationship in which Indian States enters into a bilateral agreement for exchange of culture, business and trade.
Sangma also discussed with the Prime Minister about the State�s Water Policy, the 2022 National Games to be held in the State. A memorandum for inclusion of Khasi and Garo languages in the 8th schedule was also submitted.