India keen to develop trade with neighbours: Sitharaman

Srimantapur (Tripura), Jan 6 (IANS) India is keen to develop trade and economy besides people-to-people relations with all its neighbours, including Bangladesh, union Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said here on Wednesday.

“The Indian government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keen to develop all types of connectivities with all neighbouring countries, including Bangladesh, to boost trade, economy and people-to-people relations,” Sitharaman said after inaugurating the Integrated Development Complex (IDC) at Srimantapur in western Tripura along the border with Bangladesh.

“India would construct a bridge over the Feni river to connect the northeastern state of Tripura with the Chittagong international sea port in southeast Bangladesh to accelerate trade, economy besides connectivity,” she said.

Sitharaman said she would talk to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to sanction Rs.101 crore to build the bridge at the earliest.

“After construction of the bridge, Tripura would become the gateway to northeast India and southeast Asian countries,” she said.

“The government has taken steps to develop road, rail, water and air connectivity with the neighbouring countries. With good physical linkages, India wants to further develop all types of relations with the adjoining countries,” she said.

Tripura’s industries and commerce department director V.G. Jenner said the IDC at Srimantapur, about 50 km south of Agartala, has been developed at a cost of Rs.16 crore provided by the union commerce and industry ministry.

The IDC earlier functioned as a Land Customs Station (LCS) and an important trading point between India and Bangladesh.

Tripura currently has seven LCSs functional along the India-Bangladesh border.

The IDC, built on 2.86 acres of land, is a miniature Integrated Check Post being constructed by India along Bangladesh and Myanmar border to boost trade and business.

The IDC at Srimantapur has all basic modern facilities like customs, immigration, banking with currency exchange facility, warehouse and public utility services.

Sitharaman, who earlier met Chief Minister Manik Sarkar and discussed issues related to development of infrastructure along the Bangladesh border, said that due to constraints of funds, the North East Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy (NEIIPP) was suspended in December 2014.

“We would examine all possibilities to revive the NEIIPP to boost growth of industries in the northeastern region. I would personally discuss the issue with the finance minister,” she added.

To promote industrialisation in the northeast, the union government announced the NEIIPP in 2007 and many incentives and exemptions were incorporated in the policy.

Tripura Industries and Commerce Minister Tapan Chakraborty said the state government had submitted various proposals valued at Rs.2.5 crore to the union ministry to develop infrastructure along the Bangladesh border to boost trade and economy.

Sarkar and other officials also spoke at the IDC inaugural function.

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