The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Buddha boost to trade talks

Siliguri, Aug. 30: The Bengal government wants to launch a joint initiative with Sikkim to create infrastructure to handle the increased trade flow between India and China once the proposed route through Nathu-la pass opens.

In a letter dated August 21, written to Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has called for an “effective cooperation” between the two states. “If we can position our states well, the people of our states can benefit immensely from the increased movement of trade and resources that will follow through the pass. However, in order to fully utilise this opportunity, we have to take concrete steps for development of infrastructure from Chhangu through Gangtok to Siliguri,” Bhattacharjee wrote.

He also expressed his desire to meet Chamling “to discuss these issues and arrive at decisions regarding areas of mutual advantage”.

Speaking to The Telegraph from Gangtok, Chamling said: “We have received a fax of the West Bengal chief minister’s letter and we are considering the proposals. We will be sending our reply very soon. We are looking forward to meeting the West Bengal chief minister, but the venue of the meeting and date have not yet been fixed. By next week we will finalise whether it will be in Gangtok or Calcutta.”

Municipal affairs minister Asok Bhattacharya today said he would ask the Planning Commission for “special financial support in order to create the right kind of infrastructure”. “Opening of Nathu-la is a big opportunity for Siliguri to be developed as the second metropolis in the state. On September 11, I will be meeting Planning Commission deputy chairman K.C. Pant, where I will be placing the demand for granting special funds to upgrade Siliguri,” he said.

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