Jangipur (West Bengal), Oct 31: ‘Nathu La Pass (Sikkim) is an international commercial point. So the national highways connecting this point will be of great importance,’ said Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today in Murshidabad, 260 KM from Kolkata. He was speaking after laying the foundation stone for the four-laning of the National Highway (NH) 34 between Baharampur in Murshidabad district to Dalkhola in North Dinajpur.
Stressing on the expansion of the national highways in eastern India he said that Nathu La Pass is a strategic point of trade between India and China, and with other countries like Myanmar, Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh. Developing Nathu La route was necessary to develop trade and other economic activities with these neighbouring countries, he said.
Expansion of the national highways was vital for the implementation of the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit had expressed concern over the matter, Mukherjee told in his speech. He further said that these countries are the new levers of world trade hence the development of roads in eastern India assumes significance. The expansion of roads in east India is in sync with Government’s Look East policy.
Though roads in Sikkim are significantly better than the equivalent roads of other North-Eastern states, there is only road NH 31A that connects Sikkim with the rest of the country. This road too is often exposed to landslides and flooding by nearby streams, making the state inaccessible by road many a times.