STAFF REPORTER/DIPR IMPHAL, 27th Nov:
In what could be described as a fresh impetus towards improving bilateral relationships between Manipur and Myanmar, the Union government has reportedly enquired about preparedness of the Government of Manipur with regard to operationalizing regional passenger bus service between Imphal and Mandalay in Myanmar.
Inaugurating a two-day Inter-Regional Media Interaction Programme between Myanmar and India at Sangai Hall of Hotel Imphal on Monday, chief minister N Biren informed that the Myanmar government has conveyed willingness to start bus service between Mandalay and Imphal to the Centre.
Along with intimating about the immediate international neighbour completing initial official procedures to commence the bus service, the Myanmar authorities are planning to engage private parties for cross border transportation of passengers, he said, adding that the state government will also take a definite decision on the matter at the earliest.
While hinting that the government of Manipur might opt for the fleet of buses available at its disposal subsequent to revival of Manipur State Transport (MST), Biren divulged that the government will announce its decision sooner than later.
He also assured to expedite all official procedures so as to fulfil the wish of the people for frequent access to the neighbouring country, where many people of Manipur origin are settling.
The CM further urged the visiting delegates to prevail upon Myanmar authorities to do the needful for relaxing inter-regional travel norms in order to promote healthy people-to-people contact and improve trade and commerce ties.
It may be mentioned that a trial run of bus service between Imphal and Mandalay was flagged off in December 2015 by the then chief minister O Ibobi Singh from the same campus where the media interaction programme is being conducted.
In his brief address as the chief guest, chief minister Biren stated that the interaction programme marked the beginning of a new chapter in the bilateral relations of the two neighbouring countries, Manipur state in particular.
The programme would definitely bring about a deeper people to people connection, love and friendship amongst the people of the two great nations, he observed.
In a democracy, media should be strengthened so that it may play a crucial role in delivering good governance to the people and creating good civic sense among the masses, the CM said.
He also recounted that during his last visit to Yangon in the first week of September this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi mooted the idea of having a media interaction programme between India and Myanmar.
Stating that the two-day interaction programme is outcome of the Prime Minister’s historic visit, Biren expressed satisfaction that the two countries had agreed to encourage cooperation between Press Council of India and Myanmar Press Council. “This is the testimony of acknowledging the importance of the role played by the media in fostering ties and supporting democracy by the two countries,” he said.
Biren also stressed for facilitating periodical exchange of ideas between journalists and promote better understanding in political and economic developments in India and Myanmar.
He further said that he has a firm belief that bilateral relations between the two sides can be enhanced through ‘people-to-people connectivity’ through proper channels.
The CM expressed hope that the media delegates from Myanmar would explore more about the potentials of the state during their stay in Manipur.
On the other-hand, when media persons queried about the Indo-Naga dialogue process while coming out of the conference hall, CM Biren dismissed the Congress party’s claim about the framework agreement containing hidden agenda as premature and malicious.
He further stated that accusing the BJP government of lacking transparency is nothing less than a smearing campaign and signs of frustration due to loss of power.
Chief Secretary RR Rashmi, Commissioner (IPR) K Radhakumar and convener of State Level Committee for Actualisation of Act East Policy RK Shivachandra also attended the function as dignitaries.
Eleven media persons from Myanmar, two representatives from Press Council of India (PCI) and one representative each from Press Association, Indian Journalists’ Union (IJU) and Editors’ Guild of India and a number of renowned and senior journalists of the state are taking part in the interaction programme.
The interaction programme will have six technical sessions on different topics like ‘Cooperation and understanding in media and activities between Myanmar and India’, ‘Media Environment in Myanmar towards ethical responsible journalism’, ‘Free and responsible media in India’, ‘Media’s role in promoting India’s Act East Policy’, ‘Capacity building of media personnel in Myanmar and India’ and ‘Media’s role in promoting connectivity and trade between Myanmar and India’.