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11 Jul 2018

Mamata bonhomie message on border

Mamata at the public distribution programme in Changrabandha on Tuesday. Picture by Main Uddin Chisti
MAIN UDDIN CHISTI, TT, Jul 11, 2018  Changrabandha: Barely 250m from the India-Bangladesh border, Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee stood on Tuesday afternoon with a message of goodwill on her lips for the neighbouring country.

As she attended a government programme at Changrabandha, one of the 23 land ports between the two countries that connects Burimari in Lalmonirhat district and Cooch Behar on this side, Mamata said her government was sincere in developing infrastructure on the site.

As of now, Changrabandha is the only land port in the region through which direct road connectivity is available as buses ply between Siliguri and Dhaka along this route.

Despite repeated assurances by Delhi, infrastructure on the Indian side, however, has been poor.

Mamata, while speaking at the meeting, said: "We have formed a development board for infrastructure development in Changrabandha. Those working at the Customs here should work in consonance with the board as the state and the Centre should work jointly to improve facilities here. It is not a matter of politics..... We have to work to ensure that those using the land port get proper amenities."

The chief minister also instructed NB development minister Rabindranath Ghosh - who also hails from Cooch Behar district - to build accommodations in Changrabandha that is under Mekhliganj sub-division of the district - for people who move through the transit point.

"There should be accommodation for people here so that they can stay.... Improvement of facilities will encourage more people to move through Changrabandha and would boost bilateral relations among residents of both these countries," she said.

She referred to the Land Boundary Agreement signed and implemented by both India and Bangldesh, which led to exchange of enclaves.

"We worked on the issue of enclaves and have together solved a 60 year old problem. An array of development works have started in these erstwhile enclaves. But some people are trying to mislead the population there but they will not succeed," said Mamata.

Sources in the Trinamul camp said that Mamata's remarks, that too while she was at the India-Bangladesh border, were aimed at sending a message to Bangladesh that she remained committed to the cause of friendship.

"The chief minister wanted to prove that her government is serious in improving infrastructure at the border which would help Bangladesh residents. Several of them visit north Bengal districts every day and enter through Changrabandha. Simultaneously, she wanted to prove that it is during her government that the enclave issue has been resolved," said an observer.

At the administrative meeting, Mamata expressed satisfaction over the implementation of social welfare schemes in the district. She announced that four officials, three additional district magistrates and an SDO, would be transferred to other districts.

"They have been working in the district for over three years. During the meeting, as the chief minister learnt about it, she appreciated them for their work and said they would be transferred to other districts where they will have to show their competence," said a source.

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