Aizawl: President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday said the Northeastern region has immense potential for trade and development. 

Kovind, who arrived in Aizawl on Thursday on a two-day visit, addressed the 16th Convocation of Mizoram University (MZU) at Tanhril on the western outskirts of the state capital.

Speaking on the occasion, the President said the Northeastern region of the country has immense potential in trade and development due to its strategic location. Although a land-locked state, which has no access to sea, Mizoram has potential for development of trade as it shares international border with Bangladesh in the west and Myanmar in the east, and also interstate boundaries with three Indian states- Assam, Manipur and Tripura, he said. 

“The agreement for development of international trade ‘haats’ at borders with Bangladesh, which was recently signed by the two countries, is a step which would lead to better connectivity and trade,” Kovind said.

The President said the ongoing Kaladan Multi Modal Transit Transport Project (KMMTTP) has greater importance as it will contribute to the economic development of the Northeastern states.

“I hope more of such projects are identified and encouraged for holistic development of the northeastern states and our neighbouring countries,” the President said at the convocation. 

The KMMTTP is the Indo-Myanmar bilateral project to link West Bengal’s Kolkata with Northeast India via Sittwe seaport in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.

The project, when completed, would first link the eastern Indian seaport of Kolkata with Sittwe seaport in Myanmar across the Bay of Bengal, a distance of 539 km. From Sittwe, the route will continue over river Kaladan to the western Myanmarese town of Paletwa. Paletwa will then be connected to the India-Myanmar border by a 110-km-long road.

The international border will then be connected by road with southernmost Mizoram’s Lawngtlai town 87.18 km away. Officials said that the project in Mizoram side is nearing completion. 

Kovind also urged the state governments in the region to give priority to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to enable the country to meet its global commitment. 

He lauded Mizoram for its outstanding performance in the SDGs as it scored 60. The national average is 57, as per NITI Aayog’s SDG India Index 2020-2021.

Aizwal district has been ranked top performer among all districts of the northeastern states in Goal-4 of SDGs, he said. 

“I urge the people of Aizawl to handhold and encourage people in the other districts of the state to improve their social indices and participate in the process of national development,” Kovind said. 

President Kovind said that Mizoram is abundantly blessed with natural resources and the wide variety of flora and fauna provide opportunities for an immense range of studies. 

“I see great opportunities for the youth in the areas of floriculture and bamboo-based enterprises. The eco-system for start-ups was never as inspiring as it
is today…I can see the tendency of becoming job creators gaining ground among the young population,” he said. 

A total of 7,830 students, more than 50 per cent of them female, were awarded degrees during the convocation on Thursday. The event was attended by Governor Hari Babu Kambhampati, Chief Minister Zoramthanga, Speaker Lalrinliana Sailo and cabinet ministers, among others.

The President will leave for Delhi on Friday.

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