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Recce for China trade

Calcutta, Nov. 12: State commerce and industry minister Nirupam Sen will visit Nathu-la pass in Sikkim tomorrow along with urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya to explore the possibility of trade with China through the border. Commerce and industry secretary Sabyasachi Sen and North Bengal divisional commissioner Balbir Ram will also accompany them.

During the two-day tour, the duo will meet chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling and other ministers to prepare a joint action plan for infrastructure development in the zone. The team will also conduct a spot survey of the border.

Though the India-China border lies in Sikkim, Bengal plays a vital role as Siliguri is the gateway to the entire north-eastern zone, including Sikkim, Nepal and Bhutan. This apart, Bengal will be highly economically benefited from the trade.

“We will visit the border and discuss with Chamling to finalise an action plan for development of infrastructure required for smooth trading. As all trade will be carried out over the two states, development schemes have to be implemented jointly with Sikkim,” Sen said today.

The minister said infrastructure must be improved before starting trade. “We have to provide all facilities to the traders, otherwise, the entire effort will be in vain,’’ he added.

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had signed the Indo-Chinese trade treaty during his visit to China in June this year. The Centre has asked Bengal and Sikkim governments to take up the projects for infrastructural development in the zone.

Vajpayee had asked chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to explore the possibility of import-export trade with China through the Nathu-la pass and draw up a detailed plan. Bhattacharjee is likely to discuss the action plan with deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani.

The chief minister will visit north Bengal on November 16. Though he is scheduled to address a gathering on the occasion of the Citu’s Darjeeling district conference at Naxalbari, Bhattacharjee is also likely to hold discussions with its senior district leaders on the Dalgaon tea garden massacre in Jalpaiguri.

Sources said that apart from Chaa Bagan Mazdoor Union controlled by the Citu, other trade union organisations would also submit memorandum to the chief minister demanding his intervention to improve the working atmosphere in the tea gardens.

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