GUWAHATI, July 2 - Stating that Assam and Bangladesh share an intrinsic relationship, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal today said that the State government will seek the support and cooperation of the neighbouring country with regard to dredging of the Brahmaputra and Barak rivers.
Speaking during the inaugural session of the 8th India Bangladesh Friendship Dialogue which began here today, Sonowal said that dredging of the Brahmaputra and Barak will not only help to deal with the problem of flood, which affects both Assam and Bangladesh, but also improve the navigation facilities in the rivers, which can strengthen trade and commerce between India and its neighbour through the riverine routes.
�We need the support of Bangladesh in this regard,� he said, adding that he will also ask the neighbouring country to undertake dredging in parts of the rivers located across the border.
Terming Assam and the North East as a land of �potentialities and possibilities�, the Chief Minister said that the Assistant High Commission of Bangladesh, which was opened recently in Guwahati, will help strengthen ties between the region and Dhaka.
�There is an urgent need to strengthen market access and remove trade barriers between India and Bangladesh,� Sonowal said, calling for removal of restrictions in trade of certain goods through the international border in Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura.
Sonowal, who earlier had a short interaction with the Bangladesh State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam, who is also in Guwahati to attend the event, said that the Bangladeshi minister has told him that a delegation of business leaders from Dhaka will visit Assam to explore trade and commerce possibilities between the State and Bangladesh.
�The Dialogue is a reaffirmation to make our friendship stronger. Being neighbours, we have to live together and work together. And I am happy that the Dialogue is being held in Guwahati this year,� Sonowal said.
The Chief Minister added that the India-Bangladesh land swap deal has started a new era in the bilateral relations between the two nations and removed a major irritant.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar said that both the Indian and the Bangladeshi governments have to move beyond the past and in this regard both sides have shown capability and maturity.
�Governments and people are not interested in timidity. We want to explore the brave new world,� he said.
Akbar said that this part of the world had a troubled history and there have been political and demographic turmoil but added that there is a need to move forward.
�Prime Minister Narendra Modi has laid out a map for the future with the Act East Policy and East begins with West Bengal, Bangladesh and the North East. Unless we bring prosperity to the North East we will not be able to implement Act East,� he said.
He added, �The East is a critical dimension of Prime Minister Modi�s vision of a New India. A New India needs a New East and a New East is being created. Prosperity is best when it is shared.�
Akbar said that Bangladesh can be an engine of growth in this part of the world.
�But that must happen in conjunction with development of the North East. Our government�s primary goal is development of the North East. We need to sustain the momentum and take it to even higher levels,� Akbar said.
In his speech, Bangladesh State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam said that the bilateral relation between both the countries is at its best in decades.
�But there still remains some areas where we need to travel further,� he said, adding that issues like river water sharing and market access to Bangladeshi products in India are among them.