Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma has called for discussion among States in the Northeastern region of the country on an idea of implementing work permits for workers from other countries in order to check illegal immigrants and protect the people of the region and their land.
The Meghalaya Chief Minister also stressed on improving economic relationship between the Northeast and neighboring countries while focusing on the implementation of Act East Policy as well as Act South Policy with reference to the relationship between Bangladesh and Meghalaya.
On Tuesday, the Meghalaya Chief Minister threw the work permit idea before Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during his meeting with her in the national capital on Tuesday.
Conrad Sangma said that the implementation of Act East Policy would benefit the Northeastern States and boost trade relationship with neighboring countries.
He said that in the context of Act East Policy, it is Act South for Meghalaya.
“When we discussed about Act East Policy, I mentioned to the External Affairs Minister that Meghalaya shares 443 km border with Bangladesh and our government is very keen on Act South Policy,” said Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said.
He said that illegal immigration in the region and Meghalaya is a major challenge.
“In Act South Policy, it is very important for us to ensure that we get maximum benefit economically, and at the same time have a mechanism that can protect our land and our people,” he added.
The Meghalaya CM cited an instance of countries like Australia, Arab countries, US, and UK that implemented permit systems for individuals who go and work there, but cannot vote or become a citizen of that country.
“That kind of mechanism is worth looking at and it needs to be discussed with everybody. Ideas should be floated and consult with everybody. Good or bad, let us discuss it,” said Sangma.
Sangma also said that more discussion on the issue (work permit) is required with all chief ministers of the Northeast especially while discussing about Act East and Act South policy so as to develop a strong mechanism in the long run.
Conrad Sangma also pushed for setting up more border haats along the Indo-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya while stating that economic relationship between India and Bangladesh should go up.
“Trade should happen. In term of tourism, tourists from Bangladesh are closer to the hill station like Shillong. We have to take advantage of that, but we have to take care of the problem of illegal immigration too,” he said.
During his discussion with Union Minister Swaraj, the Meghalaya Chief Minister said that raised the issue of linking a road straight from Kolkata to Guwahati instead of going through a chicken neck as it can reduce the distance from 1000 km to 700 km.