A Shillong-Dhaka air service, besides a bus service, will be among a host of other issues likely to be taken up by Chief Minister D. D. Lapang when he meets Bangladesh Premier Sheikh Hasina in New Delhi on Monday.
Mr. Lapang has been invited by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to attend a state banquet in honour of the Bangladesh premier at New Delhi tomorrow evening.
He said a Shillong-Dhaka air service was under “active consideration” of his government and he would raise the matter with Ms. Hasina.
“We have persuaded Air India to explore the possibility of a Shillong-Dhaka flight. The deputy commissioner of Ri-Bhoi district, where the Shillong Airport is located, has been entrusted to complete the process of land acquirement for expansion of the airport at the earliest,” Mr. Lapang told PTI.
Meghalaya shares mutual interest in terms of trade besides geographical and historical contiguity with the neighbouring country.
Though Bangladesh is next door, people from Meghalaya need to undertake a long journey either to Agartala where the only visa office in the North East is located or to Kolkata.
The Meghalaya Government had on earlier occasions too taken up the matter with the Centre for setting up a visa office in the state capital.
He said issues of border trade, particularly opening of border haats (markets), would also be raised with the Bangladesh premier.
The State government is also pursuing with the Centre the introduction of a direct bus service between Shillong and Sylhet, he said.
In 2007, the Centre had announced an additional Rs10 crore to enhance the carrying capacity of a bridge over river Umngot from the existing 12 tonne to 30 tonne to facilitate the proposed bus service between Shillong and Sylhet.
The border town of Dawki is 83 km from Shillong, while Sylhet is another 40 km from the Dawki—Tamabil check post.
Stating that Meghalaya was poised for a “better” year ahead, he said investors were responding to the efforts made to attract them to the state.
“The situation in the State is quite favourable now. We have formed a number of task forces for promotion of tourism, education, food processing etc.,” Mr. Lapang said informing that Lalit Group of Hotels have identified a site at Barapani on the outskirts of the capital city for setting up a five star hotel.
Besides, he said, a private company is also setting up an International Spiritual Centre at Cherrapunjee for which the land inspection has been completed.