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SHILLONG: Chief Minister Dr. Mukul Sangma on Friday stressed on the sustainability of trade and commerce along the borders with neighbouring countries and has called for regulating border trade, saying that absence of legal trade would lead to illegal trade across the borders whose fallout can be dangerous to the country as a whole.
He was addressing the two-day International Seminar on "Border Trade in North East India: A Politico-Economic Perspective" organized by Women's College, Shillong, as the chief guest at the inaugural session on Friday afternoon.
The Chief Minister referred to pre-Independence days when trade flourished in the so-called remotest and most difficult border areas of the country and regretted that post-Independence border trade was not taken advantage of and the borders became areas of conflict and poverty. However, with the long drawn engagements by successive governments of the Northeastern states with the Centre and the governments of neighbouring countries to make the international borders the borders of friendship and prosperity, things have started happening he said, but we need to move faster and that is why such seminars are important to look at the opportunities and challenges of border trade from politico-economic perspective.
He said that the opening of two border haats in 2012 – one at Kalaichar in South West Garo Hills and Balat in East Khasi Hills – was a humble step of the government to promote the age-old trade relations with Bangladesh, which not only brought economic benefit but also promoted social bonding of the people across the border. After seeing the success of these border haats, he informed that the State has give a proposal for 22 more border haats, out of which four have already been sanctioned.
Highlighting the bottlenecks and challenges that come in the way of promoting border trade, the Chief Minister said that the whole integration and convergence of all stakeholders was crucial and expressed hope that the discussions and deliberations in the seminar would culminate with suggestions for the policy makers.
He also called for having such seminars on a larger scale so as to reach out to the youth and motivate them towards entrepreneurship, adding that there cannot be sustainability of trade and commerce without entrepreneurs.
Earlier, the Chairman, Board of Governors, RGIIM, Shillong, Falguni Rajkumar in his keynote address termed South East Asia as a divided family broken down by politics of states and stressed the need to restore back the dynamics of exchange across the borders.
President of Education India Trust, J.B.Bhattacharya and former MP Rajya Sabha and President Governing Body, Women's College , Shillong, Prof.B.B.Dutta also addressed the inaugural session.
The seminar is being attended by delegates from Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal, besides hosts of academicians and students from various institutions including those from beyond the borders.