Delegation led by CM Conrad K Sangma is visiting Bangladesh from November 5-8 Credit: Twitter

Shillong: A delegation from Meghalaya, led by chief minister Conrad K Sangma, set off on a road trip to Bangladesh on Tuesday. The four-day tour aims to connect borders, improve ties, and look at economic growth that will benefit the countries.

The 20-member delegation from the state comprising cabinet ministers Banteidor Lyngdoh, Sniawbhalang Dhar and Lahkmen Rymbui, government officials, entrepreneurs, and tour operators started the tour on November 5 and will return on November 8.

The delegation made its first visit to Jaintiapur, Sylhet in Bangladesh. Sangma took to Twitter to share pictures of troops welcoming him along the India-Bangla border in Dawki.

“It was a great moment to visit Jaintiapur where the remains of the former ruler were laid to rest. We have only read about Jaintiapur and the Khasi and Jaintia population that settled there and it was an honour to visit the place. We urge the central government and the Bangladesh government to fund the protection and preservation of Jaintiapur, which holds great history of our tribes. Our MLAs from Jaintia Hills, in particular, were very happy to visit Jaintiapur and we feel privileged to be the first government delegation to visit the place from the state,” said Sangma.

Meghalaya chief minister Conrad K Sangma with Bangladeshi officials at the remains of Jaintiapur in Bangladesh

Following the visit, the Meghalaya delegation attended the meeting hosted by the Sylhet Chamber of Commerce, Bangladesh to exchange views and opinions on business and trade exchange between India and Bangladesh.

“It was a positive meeting with the Chambers of Commerce at Sylhet with huge participation from different sectors and we got to understand that they also mutually feel there is a huge opportunity for trade and commerce but it is the unavailability of connection that is a barrier. We have invited the Chambers of Commerce to Shillong and with Dhaka being only three and a half hours away from Meghalaya, we feel it can be of huge economic advantage. Another positive suggestion that came up was a connection between Sylhet and Shillong through bus or airway service in the near future and this will be considered through proper consultation with our central government,” said Sangma.

Sangma felt that over the years the connection between the people has weakened; hence the Meghalaya government chose to travel by road to be able to connect and feel what the people of Bangladesh feel and experience.

Meghalaya shares 443-km border with Bangladesh and share strong cultural and historical ties too.

“It was stated that out of 10 billion dollars of the trade in Bangladesh, Meghalaya only contributed 0.7% of the trade with the country and though Meghalaya shares 443 km of border with the country and we share strong cultural and historical ties yet, we have not been able to figure out how we can improve things. There is definitely a gap that we have not been paying attention to and there are very low-hanging fruits and just basic connection between the individuals and the company facilitated by meetings like these can be the solution,” said Sangma.

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