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Shillong seeks Seoul aid

Shin Bongkil was here to attend the closing function of the Fourth India International Cherry Blossom Festival
South Korean ambassador Shin Bongkil in Shillong on Saturday
South Korean ambassador Shin Bongkil in Shillong on Saturday
Telegraph picture

Our Correspondent   |   Shillong   |   Published 16.11.19, 06:52 PM

Meghalaya has turned to South Korea for assistance in land reclamation and purifying water bodies, especially in areas affected by mining activities, generating waste into fuel and tourism.

Briefing reporters after a bilateral summit held here on Saturday, South Korean ambassador to India Shin Bongkil said the meeting explored the possible cooperation between the two sides in the areas of mining where land reclamation is required, water purification where waterbodies are affected by mining activities and turning waste into fuel.

Bongkil was also here to attend the closing function of the Fourth India International Cherry Blossom Festival where South Korea is the partner country.

“I saw some presentations from the state government with regard to mining problem where environmental problems are there and how to solve them. We also discussed how to purify water because this state receives a lot of rainfall, but water is polluted by mining problem. Tourism was another issue that was discussed,” Bongkil said.

He said a company from South Korea, which has the expertise in generating solid waste to fuel, had come to present its ideas. The company has already set up factories in China and South Korea, and Meghalaya could be the first state in India to receive the technology to convert waste into fuel.

The ambassador also said chief minister Conrad K. Sangma would be visiting South Korea from November 23 to 27 where he will meet the authorities and companies which have the technological capability to solve the problems faced by Meghalaya.

“I have great expectations from the chief minister’s visit to South Korea, and after he returns, I hope that we will get a report from the state government. The embassy can cooperate with the state government how to implement the projects,” Bongkil added.

On investments that could come into Meghalaya from South Korea, the ambassador was candid when he said the state was not known much in South Korea. “It is quite remote from Delhi or Mumbai, and it is not easy to recommend to Korean businessmen to come to this part of the country. But we are gradually knowing the state, and my visit is an initiative to know more about the Northeast. You have the potential for tourism,” he said.

He said in the Northeast there are quite a number of K-Pop fans. “It is very encouraging for Korea. Already a number of K-Pop bands have visited Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland.”

Meghalaya home minister James P.K. Sangma said the meeting with the ambassador was fruitful.

He said the state requires support in waste management especially when the dumping ground at Marten has been a problem. Tons of segregated and unsegregated waste go into Marten at Mawïong along Guwahati-Shillong Road daily.

“The waste management technology presented before us offers a solution without causing any harm to the environment,” James said.

He said the issue on land reclamation in areas where mining has taken place was also discussed. “Korea has led the way in land reclamation in their own country, and there is a lot to learn from them.”

He said the meeting was a start and he believed that the partnership would go a long way in helping Meghalaya.

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