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'Co-ordination on energy policy & grid interconnections imperative for mutual beneficial development of BIMSTEC countries'
There is a need for BIMSTEC countries to look at grid interconnections and coordination on energy policy to facilitate mutually beneficial development and BIMSTEC energy centre being established at Bengaluru can play an important role in this endeavour.

“There is a need to revive and strengthen connectivity of North-East of India with Myanmar and Thailand on one side and with Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal on the other side,” said the union minister of state for Development of North Eastern Region (I/C), External Affairs and Overseas Indian Affairs, General (Retd.) V.K. Singh while inaugurating an interactive session on ‘BIMSTEC Foundation Day,’ organized by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) at New Delhi. 

BIMSTEC comprises seven developing countries representing 1.5 billion people i.e. 21 per cent of world population and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of over $2.5 trillion.

“BIMSTEC straddles between South Asia and Southeast Asia and is also a forum where north-eastern region of India is embedded and I am perfectly aware of synergies and complementarities that exist and further can be created specifically between north-eastern region of India and BIMSTEC,” said General (Retd.) V.K. Singh. 

“BIMSTEC permanent secretariat at Dhaka is a very positive step and is now poised to play a more active role in regional integration and co-operation by coordinating and facilitating implementation of BIMSTEC activities and projects.”

He also informed that phase II report on updating and enhancing of BIMSTEC Transport Infrastructure and Logistic Study (BTILS) has been completed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in May, 2014 and projects for implementation are under discussion. “I hope that these will give further impetus to our inter-linkages.”

The union minister for Development of North Eastern Region (I/C) informed that of the several BIMSTEC Centres being launched throughout the region, including three in India will foster greater technical exchanges between member countries.

He also said that BIMSTEC has identified 14 priority areas where a member country takes lead and India is the lead country for transport and communication, tourism, environment and disaster management, counter terrorism and transnational crime.

“There exist many more opportunities and synergies especially in the fields of agriculture, public health, education and skill development, natural resources and the like that we can exploit together as a group,” added the minister. “Our population profiles are young and this creates a unique dynamic for us.”

General (Retd.) V.K. Singh who is also India’s former Army Chief, assured that its bilateral relations with BIMSTEC partners is most important for India. “BIMSTEC can prosper and grow and make an important contribution to peace, harmony, security and prosperity in Asia and the world.”

He further said that all the BIMSTEC members are developing countries grappling with similar problems and common challenges which need to be converted into opportunities. “Our region has common challenges from an entire spectrum of issues ranging from vulnerability to natural disasters to terrorism, it depends on us to convert these challenges into opportunities.”

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