IMPHAL | Jun 11: There is huge potential for partnership in cultural tourism between Manipur and Myanmar as Manipur shares strong cultural affinities with Myanmar. Investments in infrastructure, skill development and film production have great potential while simultaneously promoting traditional and cultural art forms, and generating employment for the youth, said chief minister Nongthombam Biren today.
He made this statement while addressing a gathering at the inaugural function of the conference on “Connecting India’s North-East with North-West Region of Myanmar: Roadmap for all-round Prosperity” held today at Imperial Hall, Classic Grande, Chingmeirong.
Speaking at the occasion, Biren said that physical and social infrastructures have to be robust to unlock the latent potentials and untapped opportunities in the state and the region.
While pointing out that Manipur is the ‘Land Gateway of India to South-East Asia’, he conveyed that elevated highways and ring roads are being planned in Imphal city by his government in an attempt to develop the physical and social infrastructure.
“The Asian Highways 1 and 2 which pass through Manipur will connect the North East region to Myanmar and beyond. There has been a renewed effort to ensure the early completion of the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway and to extend the same to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam”, Biren stated while adding that the work for widening and improving the Imphal to Moreh Road is also progressing at a steady pace.
He maintained that the State is well placed to cater to the logistical needs of the region with the coming of railways in Manipur. The formalities for starting the Mandalay-Imphal bus service are at its final stages. The next stage would involve signing of Transport Protocol between the Government of India and the Government of Myanmar. With this bus service, Manipur will serve as a land gateway for Buddhist religious centres in Tawang, Rumtek and Bodhgaya, observed Biren.
CM further intimated that his government is keen for direct air links between Manipur and Myanmar to promote tourism, trade and to build greater people-to-people contact. In this regard, he mooted proposing a flight between Mandalay-Imphal-Gaya in collaboration with Air India.
“The security situation in Manipur has improved considerably,” the CM opined and stressed that border security is crucial on both sides for checking smuggling of drugs, arms, cross border terrorism and movement of illegal immigrants. “Mechanism for identification and sharing of information needs to be strengthened. We need to cooperate in the release of detained or jailed citizens of either side for accidental intrusion,” he added.
The CM also intimated that the state government is considering setting up of a Logistics Park given the importance of logistics in enhancing trade, commerce and investment. Moreover, Manipur is rich in medicinal plants, horticultural products, aromatic plants and spices. It has great potential for organic farming and floriculture. There are opportunities in post-harvest management of agricultural and horticultural products. Cold chain linkages are being strengthened. There are plans to set up a Gems and Jewellery Park and a second Food Park in the State, noted Biren.
Manipuri handlooms are known for their finesse and elegant designs. A new Textile Policy has also been formulated to address this sector comprehensively. In addition, bamboo crafts and pottery have potential for investment. Besides, Manipur is the powerhouse of Indian sports. For the past two years, friendly football matches have been held between Manipur and Mandalay and Saigaing. These developments present huge potential for further collaboration between our regions through sports, CM observed while stating that opportunities for collaboration between Manipur and Myanmar can also be explored in the education sector as the state has excellent centres of higher learning, such as the Manipur University, Central Agricultural University, the Manipur University of Culture and the country’s only National Sports University.
“With quality healthcare facilities and professionals available, medical tourism in Manipur is another area which we offer to our guests to experience. Mechanisms could be institutionalised for collaboration with these institutions in the areas of research, training, exchange programmes and so on”, Biren noted and expressed confidence that today’s conference will facilitate in shaping a way forward towards a shared all-round prosperity of the North-East region of India and the North-West region of Myanmar.
Taking part in the inaugural function, chief minister, Magway region, Myanmar, Dr. Aung Moe Nyo also pointed out that there are huge potentials of medical tourism between Manipur and Myanmar.
Ambassador, Embassy of the Union of Myanmar, Delhi, Moe Kyaw Aung; consul general of India, Mandalay, Nandan Singh Bhaisora; director, India Foundation, captain, Alok Bansel and delegates from Myanmar and India were also present during the occasion.