SHILLONG: Inching closer to solve the irritant–water sharing disputes hindering the smooth function of the bilateral ties between India and her neighbouring countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and Nepal), a confluence of thoughts and ideas between stakeholders from the North eastern part of India and the neighbouring countries took shape to work out effective plans in order to ensure that all the stakeholders gets equal benefit from the river bodies.
If development is all about ideas, then the convergence of experts and policy makers of India and its neighbouring countries towards utilising the inland waterways of India and its neighbouring countries, maybe heading towards the right direction.
The confluence assumed significance at a time when the world is faced with the problem of water crisis. This conflux which goes by the name–‘Nadi 2016’, the first of its kind was hosted by Meghalaya with an aim to design an action plan to solve the hurdles relating to inland water ways and to ensure leveraging upon the river bodies.
Organised by Asian Confluence in collaboration with the government of Meghalaya at State Convention Centre, the Nadi 2016 was inaugurated here on Friday by Meghalaya Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma in the presence of Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister of Bangladesh, Rashed Khan Menon, Minister of state incharge of Foreign Affairs, Government of Bangladesh—Shahriar Alam besides officials of Bhutan, Nepal, high commissioners including the chief minister of Mizoram.
“There is a need for a comprehensive action plan to leverage upon the available resources and cooperation between all the stakeholders to understand the course of the rivers and to utilise the resources judiciously to avoid turning the same into a source of conflict between India and its neighbouring countries,” Meghalaya Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma said.
Referring to the benefit derived from the simple and cheapest mode of transportation pre-independence, Sangma said that the river routes utilised during the British rule in India proved to be beneficial not only for India but its neighbouring country-Bangladesh, but unfortunately, post-independence, these routes has been abandoned.
“There is a need to revive these routes and recently the Inland Waterways Authority of India has approved to connect the inland waterways from Brahmaputra to-Meghalaya-Bangladesh,” Dr Sangma informed.
Meanwhile, the High Commissioner of India, Bangladesh Harsh Vardhan Shringla stressed on the importance of the rivers stating that the rivers creates bond of civilisation which lingers over time and it is a lifeline that connects us all.
Highlighting on the importance of the NE, Shringla said that over 54 rivers flows from India to Bangladesh and all these river bodies flows through the North eastern region of India which signifies that the relation of India and its neighbouring countries can be strengthen if the NE region is strengthen.
He informed that during a meeting between the high officials of BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal) on Thursday, a committee was formed involving all the 4 countries to work on an action plan to harness the massive Hydro power potentialities.
Commenting on the Border Haats located at along the Indo-Bangla border areas of Meghalaya, the high commissioner said that Bangladesh and India have agreed to increase the number of markets along the border, aimed at boosting economic activities of the people living in the border areas. “we are contemplating to increase the number of border haats from 4 to 25 to enhance trade and economic activities and people-to-people contact,” he added.
Furthermore, he said that NE has huge potential in the tourism sector, yet the same has not been tapped while informing that a flight have been considered from Bangladesh to Guwahati and other airports of the NE states.
Meanwhile, Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister of Bangladesh, Rashed Khan Menon in his keynote address said the government of Bangladesh is committed to foster sub-regional cooperation in various sectors like tourism, trade and commerce besides others.
Stating that the isolation of NE from Mainland India has created many problems for the NE states in terms of connectivity, Menon said “Bangladesh offers ending this post-independence isolation of the NE through its existing railways and river routes.”
The two-day river festival will conclude tomorrow with Meghalaya Governor attending the valedictory function as the chief guest.