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Agartala

BJP's Biplab Kumar Deb sworn in as Chief Minister of Tripura

 
Biplab Kumar Deb is new Chief Minister of Tripura
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Biplab Kumar Deb was today sworn in as the 10th  Chief Minister of Tripura at a ceremony that was attended by, among others, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who assured the people that the new government would work for the welfare of all citizens.
 
Mr. Deb was administered the oaths of office and secrecy by Governor Tathagata Roy in the ceremony that was held at the Assam Rifles ground here.
 
Mr. Jishnu Deb Burman, a veteran BJP tribal leader, took oath as the Deputy Chief Minister. Seven other Cabinet Ministers were also sworn in.
 
Others present on the occasion included BJP President Amit Shah, senior party leaders Lal Krishna Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, DoNER Minister Jitendra Singh and the Chief Ministers of BJP-ruled states.
 
The BJP had won an impressive victory in the February 18 elections to the state legislative assembly, winning 35 of the 59 seats for which polling was held, ending 25 years of Left Front rule. The BJP's partner, the tribal-based Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT), picked up eight seats, while the Communist Party of India (Marxist), could get only 16 seats.
 
Mr. Deb, 48, has been the state BJP president since January 2016 and had led his party in last month's elections. He has been elected to the Assembly from Banamalipur constituency.
 
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Addressing the gathering on the occasion, Mr. Modi said the 2018 Tripura assembly elections would be always discussed by people in the history of India.
 
“I am here to assure the people of Tripura that this BJP Government is for people who voted for us and for those who did not vote for us. Elections are over and we have to look ahead. We will serve every citizen of Tripura”, he added.
 
The Prime Minister said that those in the opposition in Tripura today had been in power for long and they surely had a lot of experience. “Ours is a new and fresh team. In age, too, our team is younger. They have Anubhav, we have Umang and Utsah. We have to work together for the progress of Tripura,” he said.
 
He said last month's elections in Tripura as well as those in Meghalaya and Nagaland had renewed focus on the North-East.
 
He assured the full support of the Central Government to the state of Tripura and said the BJP and the Government would take all sections of society  together and work to fulfil the dreams of the people. "Tripura's dreams are our dreams as well," he said.
 
"It feels like the state is celebrating Diwali. We are lighting the lamp of progress and prosperity. There is new vigour and enthusiasm here. I congratulate all those who have taken oath and wish them the very best as they begin their work," he added.
 
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BJP candidate wins Tripura's Badharghat bye-election

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BJP candidate Mimi Majumder on Friday won the Badharghat Assembly bye-election in Tripura defeating her nearest CPI-M rival Bulti Biswas by a margin of 5,276 votes, election officials said.
 
According to the Election Commission officials, ruling Bharatiya Janata Party nominee Majumder secured 20,487 votes while her CPI-M-led Left Front rival and woman candidate Biswas got 15,211 votes.
 
Congress aspirant Ratan Chandra Das managed 9,105 votes while SUCI (C) contender Mridul Kanti Sarkar bagged only 470 votes. The officials said that 667 votes were cast in NOTA (None Of The Above) category.
 
The bye-election in Badharghat Assembly seat, reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates, was necessitated by the death of sitting BJP legislator Dilip Sarkar. Polling was held on September 23. According to EC documents, the vote share of ruling BJP compared to the last year's Assembly polls and Lok Sabha elections earlier this year, was reduced by a few thousand.
 
With the election of teacher-turned-politician Mimi Majumder, the number of women legislators in the 60-member House rose to four -- three of BJP and one of CPI-M.
 
IANS
 

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Over 79% turnout in Tripura Assembly bye-election

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More than 79 per cent of the 57,906-strong electorate have cast their votes in the Badharghat Assembly bye-election in Tripura on Monday, officials said. The counting of votes will take place on Friday.
 
"By 5 p.m., over 79 per cent of the total electorate have cast their votes. The final polling percentage is likely to increase as few hundred voters are still in the queues after the end of the scheduled time of balloting which is 5 p.m. No untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the constituency," Tapan Kumar Das, Additional District Magistrate of West Tripura district, told IANS.
 
"Election officials have immediately dealt with some complaints received from the candidates and the contesting parties," he added.
 
Das said that security personnel have dispersed hundreds of unauthorised gatherings violating the prohibitory order under Section 144 of CrPc in the Badharghat Assembly segment under the West Tripura district.
 
In a four-cornered electoral battle, the bye-election is being contested between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Mimi Majumder, opposition Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Front nominee Bulti Biswas, Congress aspirant Ratan Chandra Das and SUCI(C) contestant Mridul Kanti Sarkar.
 
The bye-election to the Badharghat seat, reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates, was necessitated following the death of sitting BJP legislator Dilip Sarkar.
 
Five-time Congress legislator Sarkar, who joined the BJP in 2017 along with seven other Congress MLAs, died on April 1 after prolonged illness.
 
IANS
 

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Rain fury on in Tripura, Mizoram, 22,000 shifted to camps

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More than 22,000 people have been shifted to relief camps and other safer places in Tripura and Mizoram due to flooding of low-lying areas and villages by uninterrupted rains over the past three days, officials said on Monday.
 
At least four people were drowned in swollen rivers in the two states and their bodies have been recovered.
 
Train services between Tripura, Mizoram and the rest of the country have been affected due to rain and landslides, while water, electricity and telephone services were badly affected due to damages in the heavy downpour.
 
India Meteorological Department Director Dilip Saha, however, told IANS that the situation is expected to improve from Tuesday.
 
According to officials in Tripura Disaster Control Centre, over 17,000 people have taken shelter in 64 relief camps on the outskirts of Agartala and four other districts - Khowai, Unokoti, Gomati and South Tripura.
 
"We have deployed Tripura State Rifles troopers and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), police and civil defence personnel to rescue the marooned people," West Tripura District Magistrate Sandeep Mahatme told the media.
 
"Water in several rivers, including Howrah, has crossed the danger level. We have taken precautionary measures to deal with any eventuality," he said.
 
The body of a youth who had apparently drowned while collecting wood from the flooded Muhuri river in South Tripura was recovered on Sunday, officials said.
 
Agartala and its outskirts have been badly affected due to the continuous rain since Saturday and a large part of the city has been submerged
 
"Around 311 mm rainfall was recorded in Agartala since Saturday against the normal average daily rainfall of 11 to 12 mm," a Revenue and Relief Department official said.
 
Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb has asked Chief Secretary Usurupati Venkateswarlu and other officials to remain alert to deal with the situation.
 
In Mizoram, over 5,000 people have taken shelter in safer places in different districts as major rivers and their tributaries submerged over 500 houses and low lying areas.
 
Three people, including a 5-year-old girl, drowned in different rivers and their bodies were recovered by the State Disaster Response Force personnel.
 
According to the Mizoram Disaster Control Centre, headquarters of three of the state's eight districts - Mamit, Lunglei and Lawngtlai - were cut off from capital Aizawl due to heavy landslides and damage to roads including National Highway 54.
 
IANS
 

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Three killed in Tripura road accident

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At least three people were killed and another injured in a road accident in Tripura's Dhalai district on Saturday, police said.
 
Sub-Divisional Police Officer Sabyasachi Debnath told IANS that a speeding passenger vehicle, with four people in it, skidded off the road and hit a tree, killing two occupants on the spot.
 
Two other passengers were seriously injured and one of them succumbed to his injuries in the hospital later. 
 
The accident occurred at Manik Bhandar in Dhalai in northern Tripura, 90 km north Agartala, Debnath said, adding that due to heavy rain, the road was very slippery. 
 
The surviving passenger is now being treated in a government hospital.
 
IANS

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Fani: Rain lashes Tripura, houses damaged, trees uprooted

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Tripura and adjoining northeastern states have witnessed intermittent rains since Friday due to the impact of cyclone Fani, officials said here on Saturday.
 
"Due to Fani, at least six houses were fully damaged and around 140 houses partly damaged in three of the eight districts - Khowai, Gomati, Sepahijala. A school structure was partially damaged in Amarpur in Gomati district when a tree fall on it," said an official of the Tripura Disaster Control Centre.
 
He said a many trees and electric poles were uprooted in different parts of the state disrupting vehicular movement and electricity supply.
 
"Works are on to restore the normal movement of vehicles and electricity supply," the official added.
 
On behalf of the state government, Revenue Department's Additional Secretary L. T. Darlong had earlier asked all the eight District Magistrates and Collector to remain alert to deal with the situation in view of Fani.
 
Meanwhile, according to India Meteorological Department (IMD) Director Dilip Saha, Fani has hugely weakened and turned into a "depression" only on Saturday evening and exists in neighbouring Bangladesh.
 
"Fani is expected to enter Assam and other northeastern states on Sunday causing medium to heavy rains," Saha told IANS adding that there was no major threat from the weakened cyclone.
 
The met office here recorded 75.5 mm rainfall during the past 24 hours.
 
The cyclonic storm made landfall in Odisha on Friday morning, then it moved to West Bengal on Friday mid-night before entering Bangladesh on Saturday.
 
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Bengaluru-bound Hamsafar express derails in Assam

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Two wheels of Bengaluru-bound Hamsafar Express derailed on Tuesday in southern Assam bordering Tripura, an official said.
 
"Two wheels of Agartala-Bengaluru Hamsafar express derailed at Margram under Karimganj district of Southern Assam today (Tuesday) morning. Accident relief train has reached the site from Badarpur (in Southern Assam). There is no casualty," said Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) Chief Public Relations Officer Pranav Jyoti Sharma said.
 
The cause of derailment was under investigation and work of rerailment was under progress, he said.
 
Several trains bound for Agartala, Guwahati and Kolkata were stranded in different locations in Assam and Tripura due to the accident.
 
The NFR runs several express, passenger and goods trains from Tripura capital Agartala and southern Assam through a single line up to Lumding junction, 200 km from Assam's main city of Guwahati.
 
IANS

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Heat wave, deficit rain affect normal life in NE

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Normal life in the northeastern region has been affected due to heat wave in several areas and deficit pre-monsoon rains, officials said on Monday.
 
According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the maximum temperature in several N-E states, especially Assam, Mizoram and Tripura, since the past one week is hovering between 35 degrees Celsius and 38 degrees Celsius -- two-five degrees above the normal for this time of the season.
 
The IMD, since March 1, also recorded 36 mm deficit pre-monsoon (March to May) rainfall in the seven N-E states, excluding Sikkim. 
 
The Arunachal Pradesh meteorological sub-division recorded highest 47 mm deficient pre-monsoon rainfall, followed by Assam and Meghalaya sub-division with 33 mm and Nagaland-Manipur-Mizoram-Tripura sub-division 28 mm.
 
Sikkim and adjoining areas have recorded 152 mm pre-monsoon rainfall since March 1.
 
IMD Director Dilip Saha said in view of deep depressions over the Indian Ocean and adjoining Bay of Bengal, and subsequent cyclone 'Fani', the heat wave had continued in the mountainous northeastern region.
 
"After the end of the cyclone's affect, the wind pattern is likely to change and the heat wave is expected to subside. We expect the situation to normalise within two-three days," Saha told IANS.
 
Agricultural officials in Assam, Mizoram and Tripura said various summer crops would be affected due to the deficit pre-monsoon rainfall. "If the rain does not occur in the next few days, the damage to the summer crops would be much larger," agricultural expert Samar Mitra told IANS.
 
The deficit in rainfall also resulted in water scarcity, including supply of drinking water.
 
Tripura Drinking Water and Sanitation Department Chief Engineer Baishapayan Chakraborty said the department had been providing drinking water through tankers in the scarcity-prone areas as well as remote, isolated hamlets and tribal areas.
 
"We are setting up deep tube wells in the areas where the level of ground water has gone down, mostly in the hilly areas," Chakraborty told IANS. 
 
The Health Departments in the region have been alerted and suggested to take precautionary measures besides organising special health camps to tackle the seasonal diseases.
 
IANS
 

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Tripura BJP vice-chief, two others join Congress

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Ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, three Tripura BJP leaders, including party Vice-President Subal Bhowmik joined the Congress on Tuesday.
 
The other two are former Minister Prakash Das and firebrand leader Debashish Sen.
 
Tripura Congress President Pradyot Bikram Manikya Debbarman and AICC Secretary Bhupen Bora welcomed the three leaders at a media conference.
 
Bhowmik was holding the Vice President's post in BJP. He joined the saffron party in 2015, while Das and Sen came to the party in 2017 from the Congress and the Communist Party of India-Marxist, respectively. 
 
Sen was also the Vice-Chairman of the CPI-M controlled Kailashahar Municipal Council in northern Tripura.
 
After joining the Congress, Bhowmik told the media that he along with thousands of Congressmen and workers from other parties had joined BJP to give better governance to the people, but the one-year-old state government has performed very poorly.
 
"Violating the BJP constitution, Biplab Kumar Deb has been holding two vital posts - Chief Minister and state party President. Deb's ridiculous comments and actions upset people of the state and have damaged the image of the government," the 58-year old leader said.
 
He said: "I was in Congress for 35 years. Before Deb returned to Tripura in 2016, I led the BJP but I have been humiliated by the newcomers."
 
Das and Sen said the BJP-led government in Tripura would soon collapse as they have not only forgotten their pre-poll promises but also working against the people's interests.
 
All India Congress Committee Secretary Bhupen Bora said : "From today (Tuesday) the BJP 'mukt' (free) campaign has been started from Tripura. Despite 10 of the 60 Tripura Assembly seats being reserved for the people belong to Scheduled Castes, there is not a single minister from this community in the ministry."
 
Tripura Congress chief Pradyot Bikram Manikya Debbarman said the party President Rahul Gandhi will address an election rally in Tripura on Wednesday.
 
"Rahulji would announce the Congress candidates for the Lok Sabha seats in Tripura tomorrow (Wednesday)," said Debbarman, a Tripura royal scion who was appointed state Congress President less than a month ago.
 
"More leaders and members from BJP would soon join Congress," the 41-years-old Congress leader said.
 
The ruling BJP is yet to react to the latest political developments.
 
Tripura West Lok Sabha seat goes to the polls on April 11 in the first phase of the general elections, and Tripura East on April 18 in the second phase. 
 
The statutory notification for the Tripura West Lok Sabha seat was issued on Monday and the same was issued on Tuesday for the Tripura East seat, reserved for tribals.
 
IANS
 

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Modi to visit Guwahati, Itanagar and Agartala on Saturday

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Guwahati in Assam, Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh and Agartala in Tripura tomorrow as part of a one-day trip during which he will launch several development projects.
 
In Itanagar, he will unveil a series of development projects at IG Park in Itanagar. 
 
Among other things, he will lay the foundation stone for the construction of a greenfield airport at Hollongi. At present, the nearest airport to Itanagar is at Lilabari in Assam at a distance of 80 km.
 
The airport at Hollongi will reduce the distance by a fourth. In addition to providing better connectivity to the region, the airport will also unravel the tourism potential of the state. The airport will boost the economic growth of the region and will be strategically important to the nation. The airport will have various sustainability features like green belt along approach road to act as noise barrier, rain water harvesting, use of energy efficient equipment, and so on.
 
Modi will also lay the foundation stone of Sela Tunnel in Arunachal Pradesh. It will provide all-weather connectivity to Tawang Valley for civilians as well as security forces throughout the year. The tunnel will reduce travel time to Tawang by an hour and boost tourism and related economic activities in the region.
 
A new dedicated DD Channel, for Arunachal Pradesh, DD Arun Prabha, will be launched by the Prime Minister. It will be the 24th channel operated by Doordarshan. 
 
He will also dedicate the 110 MW Pare Hydroelectric Plant in Arunachal Pradesh to the nation. The project, constructed by NEEPCO, will harness hydro power potential of the river Dikrong (tributary of Brahmaputra) and provide cheap hydro electric power to the North Eastern states, thereby improving power availability in the region, an official press release said.
 
Modi will also lay the foundation stone for a permanent campus of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) at Jote, Arunachal Pradesh. It will cater to film students especially those from the North Eastern states. 
 
He will inaugurate the upgraded Tezu Airport in Arunachal Pradesh. The airport has been retrofitted and a new terminal constructed for making it fit for commercial operations under UDAN, the regional connectivity scheme.
 
As many as 50 health and wellness centers in Arunachal Pradesh will be inaugurated by the Prime Minister. He will also declare 100% household electrification in Arunachal Pradesh under Saubhagya Scheme.
 
From Itanagar, the Prime Minister will return to Guwahati, where he will  lay the foundation stone of the North East Gas Grid which will ensure uninterrupted availability of natural gas across the region and boost industrial growth in the region. The grid is part of Government’s plan to provide cheap and quality gas to the entire North East Region. He will lay foundation stone of City Gas Distribution Networks in Kamrup, Cacher, Hailakandi & Karimganj districts.
 
He will inaugurate Hollong Modular Gas Processing Plant in Tinsukia, Assam. The facility will deliver 15% of the total gas produced in Assam. He will also inaugurate LPG Capacity Augmentation of Mounted Storage Vessel in North Guwahati. 
 
The foundation stone of NRL Bio Refinery at Numaligarh and a 729 km gas pipeline from Barauni to Guwahati, passing through Bihar, West Bengal, Sikkim and Assam, will be laid by him on the occasion.
 
The last leg of the Prime Minister's visit will be in Agartala.  He will dedicate to the nation the Garjee - Belonia Railway Line through unveiling of plaque at Swami Vivekananda Stadium here. The line will boost Tripura as the gateway to South and Southeast Asia. He will also inaugurate the new complex of Tripura Institute of Technology at Narsingarh.
 
He will unveil the statue of Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur at Maharaja Bir Bikram Airport, Agartala. Maharaja Bir Bikram is widely regarded as the creator of modern Tripura. He is credited with planning of Agartala city. Unveiling of his statue is in line with the Union Government’s policy of honouring the unsung heroes of India, who have contributed greatly to nation building, the release added.
 
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Tripura on positive growth trajectory, says Finance Commission

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The 15th Finance Commission headed by N K Singh held detailed discussions with Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb here today and other officials and said the state was on a positive growth trajectory.
 
The State Government made a strong pitch for increased devolution for setting up of better infrastructure specially in the health, IT, Power, Education, Tourism, Disaster mitigation and other sectors. 
 
Among major demands, it asked for 50% devolution of the Divisible Pool, non-tax revenues like spectrum auction, oil and gas royalty to form part of Divisible Pool, increased devolution to manage Tripura’s forest cover as 60% of its land is under forest, management of its very long international borders with Bangladesh and other issues.
 
An official press release said the Finance Commission fully shared the vision of the state government to make Tripura a model state. The Commission noted the effective measures being taken by the government in many sectors. 
 
In HRD, special emphasis has been given to the improvement of schools, colleges, teacher education, welfare of students studying outside the state. The Commission felt that the state had an HRD plan in place. 
 
In the area of Health, the state was working to realize the huge opportunity in the development of the sector, for the benefit of both the locals as well as their Bangladeshi neighbours, it noted.
 
The state government was working towards positioning Tripura as a biotechnology and IT hub as well as harnessing the State’s agricultural potential in the field of fruits, horticulture, downstream rubber plantation, and so on.
 
A detailed memorandum was also received by the Commission from the State for the improvement of the conditions of the indigenous people of Tripura. The Commission has assured to do what best could be done for them within the frame work of rules.
 
Overall, the Commission felt that the growth trajectory of Tripura was positive. It had done quite well in several important indices of human development in the recent past, while it still has a number of challenges which has been handed down from the past. 
 
Earlier the Commission had an interaction with all political parties in Tripura. There were high commonalities beyond seeking significantly higher devolution. 
 
Four points were forcefully made. First, the need to strengthen the access to Sea Port (Chittagong Port) in adjoining Bangladesh and making Tripura a maritime hub for North East. 
 
Second, significantly improved road connectivity within Tripura to buttress tourism. Thirdly, capitalize on Tripura’s comparative factor advantages in skilled manpower and agro-related industries, both for exports and marketing. 
 
Fourth, the memorandum of chief of the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura highlighted the aspirations of the tribal society, dwelt on specific projects which would have multiplier benefits for tribal youth and meaningful employment opportunities. 
 
The Commission also met the representatives of the trade bodies of the state and noted their concerns.
 
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7th International Tourism Mart to be held in Agartala from November 22–24

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The 7th International Tourism Mart will be inaugurated by Tripura Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki in Agartala tomorrow.  
 
Union Minister for Tourism K. J Alphons, Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, Union Tourism Secretary Rashmi Verma and other officials from Central Ministries and North Eastern States will be present at the inauguration.
 
This is the 7th edition of the International Tourism Mart, an annual event organised in the North Eastern region with the objective of highlighting the tourism potential of the region in the domestic and international markets. 
 
It brings together the tourism business fraternity and entrepreneurs from the eight North Eastern States. The event has been planned and scheduled to facilitate interaction between buyers, sellers, media, Government agencies and other stakeholders.
 
The International Tourism Marts are organised in the North Eastern States on rotation basis. The earlier editions of this mart have been held in Guwahati, Tawang, Shillong, Gangtok and Imphal.
 
The North East Region of India comprising the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim, is endowed with diverse tourist attractions and products. The varied topography of the region, its flora and fauna, the ethnic communities with their rich heritage of ancient traditions and lifestyles, its festivals, arts and crafts, make it a holiday destination waiting to be explored, an official press release said.
 
The ITM will see wide participation of International buyers and media delegates from countries around the world and from different regions of the country. They will be engaging in business-to-business meetings with sellers from the North Eastern Region. 
 
This will enable the tourism product suppliers from the region to reach out to international and domestic buyers, with the objective of promoting tourism to the region.  A total of 41 foreign delegates from 18 countries -- Australia, Canada, China, France, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Myanmar, Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, UAE and USA -- will be in Tripura for the Mart. 
 
These include 23 Tour Operators & Travel Agents and 18 media representatives, journalists, travel writers and bloggers. Besides the foreign delegates, 26 domestic tour operators from other parts of the country and 78 sellers from the North Eastern States will participate in the Mart. 
 
Representatives of State Tourism Departments of these North East States will also be present to showcase their tourism destinations and to interact with the delegates.
 
In addition to the business interactions between the tour operators, the three-day event also includes presentations by state governments of the region on their tourism potential, panel discussion, cultural evenings, sightseeing visits to local attractions in and around Agartala and a press meet on November 23. 
 
An exhibition by State Tourism Departments from the North Eastern States, including display of handicrafts and handlooms, is also being organized to showcase the tourism products of respective participating States.
 
Post-mart familiarisation tours to the North Eastern states have been arranged for the international delegates to create awareness about the rich and varied tourism products of the North Eastern region and to give them a first-hand experience of the destination, the release added.
 
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First meeting of India-Bangladesh Joint Committee on Border Haats held

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The first meeting of the India-Bangladesh Joint Committee on Border Haats was held in the Tripura capital here on July 22-23.
 
In the meeting, both sides noted the positive impact of Border Haats on the livelihoods of the people living in areas adjoining the Haats, an official press release said.
 
Extensive discussions were held on issues related to review of operations of the four functional Border Haats and suggestions for improvement, the timeline for setting up the six additional Haats that had earlier been agreed to by both sides and the roadmap for further expansion. It was agreed that the next meeting will be held in Bangladesh on mutually agreed dates.
 
The Joint Committee visited the Border Haat at Kamlasagar (Sipahijala District, Tripura) – Tarapur (Brahmanbaria, Bangladesh) yesterday and appreciated its vibrant functioning. It noted the need for improvement of infrastructure.
 
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Border Haats between India and Bangladesh signed on April 8, 2017, provides for the establishment of a Joint Committee to review the haats operations, suggest modifications in the operational modalities and propose new locations.
 
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Cabinet approves renaming of Agartala airport as Maharaja Bir Bikram Manikya Kishore Airport

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The Union Cabinet today gave its approval for renaming the Agartala Airport in Tripura as Maharaja Bir Bikram Manikya Kishore Airport, Agartala.
 
The decision comes in the wake of the long pending demand of people of Tripura as well as the Tripura Government for paying tribute to Maharaja Bir Bikram Manikya Kishore, an enlightened and benevolent ruler of the erstwhile princely state of Tripura.
 
Incidentally, the Agartala airport was constructed in 1942 on the land donated by the Maharaja, who had ascended the throne in 1923.
 
As a visionary ruler, who had travelled extensively across the globe, he took several steps for the all-round development of Tripura. Due to his initiative, the airport was built which has evolved as the second busiest airport in the North East and provides crucial air connectivity to Tripura.
 
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Kovind inaugurates Matabari-Sabroom National Highway in Tripura

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Saying that development of the North East was high on the Union Government’s list of priorities, President Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated the National Highway from Matabari to Sabroom here yesterday.
 
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Kovind said road projects covering a length of 5,200 km were being executed in the region to enhance connectivity. The Bharatmala project was also giving special attention to the Northeast. As part of these programmes, 500 km of roads were being constructed in Tripura.
 
The President noted that Tripura’s immense potential for tourism will also be helped by connectivity projects. The state’s natural beauty, lush green forests and cultural heritage was a major draw for domestic and international tourists. Better rail and road connectivity will increase tourism and ancillary economic activity in the state.
 
Mr Kovind also visited the Matabari Temple complex in Udaipur and laid the foundation stone for its redevelopment and augmentation as a centre for religious tourism.
 
In the evening, the President attended a civic reception hosted in his honour by the State Government. At the reception in Agartala, he formally declared the “Queen Pineapple” as the state fruit of Tripura.
 
He said, only a few days ago, the first consignment of the Queen Pineapple was exported to West Asia. This was an important step in linking Tripura and the Northeast region with global trade. He expressed the hope that pineapples from Tripura will reach markets across the country and abroad, especially in the neighbouring countries.
 
The President emphasised that the Northeast and Tripura have a pivotal place in India’s Act East Policy. This will help enhance business with ASEAN countries and serve to realise Tripura’s economic potential.
 
The state has abundant forest resources. The conservation and sustainable use of forests, as well as providing assistance to tribal communities that are dependent on forests for their livelihood, was extremely important. The people of Tripura presented a model for the country as to the harmonious balance between human livelihood needs and natural heritage, he added.
 
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18 Delhi-bound Rohingyas arrested in Tripura

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Eighteen Rohingyas from Myanmar, including three children and four women who had entered India illegally, were on Thursday apprehended in western Tripura, a police official said.
 
According to the Khowai district police chief Krishnendu Chakraborty, the 18 Rohingyas were arrested in Khowai district's Teliamura -- 70 km north of Agartala, he added.
 
They were later taken to the Teliamura Police Station for questioning.
 
"We are yet to get exact details on their presence in Tripura. The intruders are being questioned by senior police and intelligence officials. They would be produced in a local court soon," Chakraborty told IANS.
 
Another police official said that the Rohingyas entered the state on Wednesday and were trying to go to Delhi in search of jobs.
 
The Rohingyas from Myanmar have illegally entered Tripura and a few other northeastern states via Bangladesh in the past in search of work. But, subsequently they were pushed back following legal and security formalities.
 
Over 670,000 Rohingyas, a mainly Muslim minority living in Myanmar, have fled the northwestern province of Rakhine since the end of August last year after a wave of persecution and violence that the United Nations described as an attempt at "ethnic cleansing". Efforts are on to repatriate them to their homeland in Myanmar.
 
Border Security Force (BSF) Tripura Frontier Inspector General S.R. Ojha told the media that since 2015, many Rohingyas entered Tripura and other northeastern states via Bangladesh.
 
Tripura shares an 856-km border with Bangladesh, most of which is fenced except a stretch of nearly 20 km.
 
Other than Tripura, the other states sharing the 1,880-km international border with Bangladesh are Meghalaya (443 km), Mizoram (318 km) and Assam (263 km).
 
IANS
 
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First meeting of NITI Forum for North East held in Agartala

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The first meeting of the newly constituted ‘NITI Forum for North East’ was held in Tripura capital Agartala yesterday.
 
The meeting was co-chaired by NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajeev Kumar and Minister of State for  Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Jitendra Singh.
 
Chief Ministers Biplab Kumar Deb (Tripura), Neiphiu Rio (Nagaland) and Conrad Sangma (Meghalaya), besides Arunachal Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein participated in the day-long deliberations.
 
Senior Ministers, Chief Secretaries and senior officers of the Central Ministries and State Governments were also present.
 
In his inaugural address, Mr Rajiv Kumar said the focus of development projects in the NER will be based on the concept of “HIRA” (Highways, Inland Waterways, Railways and Airways) as spelt out by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
 
Emphasis will also be put on Education, Health and Skill Development in the region. Horticulture, Tourism, Food Processing, use of Bamboo and Made in North-East will be developed through five Mission Mode projects in a time-bound manner, he added.
 
Dr Jitendra Singh said there has been a significant 21% rise in fund utilization in the North-East during the last three years. The Central Government has now committed full 100% funding for development projects in the NER, as against 90-10 ratio earlier with the State Governments funding 10% of the total cost.
 
Mr Rio pointed out that Kohima is the only state capital in the North-East which does not have an airport. He said the State Government has acquired land for this purpose and at least one small airstrip at Kohima should be constructed for providing air connectivity to Nagaland under the UDAN scheme.
 
Mr Sangma said development is the solution for all socio-economic problems in the region and through Infrastructure and Connectivity,  many development problems can be solved. He said that the National Games 2022 will be held in Meghalaya, which will coincide with the 75th anniversary of India's independence. 
 
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Mr. Deb said economic challenges of the NER could be met by removing the physical and economic barriers. He thanked the Prime Minister for giving Tripura an opportunity to host the prestigious event. 
 
The State, bordering with Bangladesh from three sides, imports goods worth more than Rs. 300 crore annually from Bangladesh but exports a meagre Rs. 4.6 crore. He said certain provisions prohibit the export of rubber from Tripura, but the same is routed through West Bengal. 
 
Tripura has immense potential in fisheries as the state has the world’s best climate suitable for aquaculture but this has not been exploited, he said.
 
Representatives of all eight States of the NER gave suggestions on moving towards a prosperous North East Region, the theme for the meeting. Secretary, DoNER Naveen Verma and Secretary, NEC, Ram Muivah explained the status of different development projects in the region.
 
The ‘NITI Forum for North East’ was constituted in February 2018 with the  aim of ensuring sustainable economic growth of the region and periodically review its development status.
 
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BJP's Biplab Kumar Deb to be new Chief Minister of Tripura

 
Biplab Kumar Deb to be next CM of Tripura
Biplab Kumar Deb of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will be the new Chief Minister of Tripura after the newly-elected legislators of the party chose him as their leader here today.
 
Briefing newspersons after a meeting of the legislative party, senior BJP leader and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, who was the Central observer, said he had heard all the MLAs and that they had unanimously chosen Mr. Deb, 48, as their leader.
 
He said Mr. Deb would meet Governor Tathagata Roy and stake claim to forming the new government in the state.
 
The BJP had won an impressive victory in the February 18 elections to the state legislative assembly, winning 35 of the 59 seats for which polling was held, ending 25 years of Left Front rule.
 
The BJP's partner, the tribal-based Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT), picked up eight seats, while the Communist Party of India (Marxist), could get only 16 seats.
 
Mr. Deb told journalists that veteran BJP tribal leader Jishnu Deb Burman would the Deputy Chief Minister.
 
Mr. Deb has been the state BJP president since January 2016 and had led his party in last month's elections. He has been elected to the Assembly from Banamalipur constituency.
 
Meanwhile, violence has been reported from many parts of the state since the election results were announced on Saturday, with both the CPI (M) and the BJP alleging that the other side had attacked their activists.
 
A statue of Communist revolutionary hero Lenin was razed by a group of people at Belonia on Monday.
 
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh talked to Governor Roy this morning and enquired about the situation. He said peace must be ensured.
 
In a statement, the Polit Bureau of the CPI (M) today strongly condemned the violence and arson and accused RSS and BJP activists of targeting its offices and cadres.
 
"The destruction of the statue of Lenin, is symbolic of the rabid anti – communist, anti – democratic fascistic character of the RSS," it said.
 
"These attacks clearly demonstrate, once again, that the RSS/BJP rely mainly on unleashing political violence as means to advance their inherent anti-democratic agenda," it said.
 
A delegation of the CPI(M) and Left Parties MPs submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister in Parliament in Delhi today, detailing the incidents of such attacks, and urged him to intervene and stop the violence before the situation got out of hand.
 
The BJP denied the allegations and asserted that it did not practice the culture of violence.
 
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74% polling in Tripura Assembly elections

 
74% polling in Tripura Assembly polls
More than 74 percent of the 25.43 lakh electors exercised their franchise till 4 pm in 59 of the 60 constituencies in the Tripura Legislative Assembly which went to the polls today, official sources said.
 
Polling in one constituency -- Charilam (ST) -- has been postponed to March 12 following the death of one candidate.
 
The day passed off peacefully, with no major untoward incident reported from any of the constituencies, the sources said. The final voting percentage is likely to go up further as more information comes in, they said.
 
There were a total of 292 candidates, including 20 women, in the fray in the 59 constituencies. The Election Commission had set up 3174 polling stations in these constituencies.
 
A total of 31,402 polling personnel and more than 29,700 police personnel, including Central police forces, were deployed to ensure a free and fair poll. 
 
The ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) -- the major constituent of the ruling Left Front -- is contesting 56 seats while its allies -- RSP, Forward Bloc and CPI -- are contesting one seat each.
 
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which forged a pre-poll alliance with the Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT), a tribal outfit, has fielded 51 candidates. The IPFT is contesting the remaining seats.
 
The Congress, which has decided to go it alone, has fielded candidates for all but one of the seats in the Assembly -- Kakrabon in Gomati district.
 
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ADB to provide $80m loan to improve urban services in Agartala, Aizawl

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The Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India signed here today an $ 80 million loan agreement to continue improving infrastructure and urban services in two North Eastern state capital cities -- Agartala and Aizawl.
 
An official press release said that the loan was the third tranche of a $ 200 million financing facility under the North Eastern Region Capital Cities Development Investment Program and will be used for investments in water supply, solid waste management and sanitation in Agartala and Aizawl.
 
It will also support urban reforms, benefiting nearly a million people in the two cities, it said.
 
Previous program tranches have provided assistance to five other cities in the North East—Shillong (Meghalaya), Aizawl (Mizoram), Kohima (Nagaland), Gangtok (Sikkim) and Agartala (Tripura). 
 
The loan agreement was signed by Mr. Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary (Multilateral Institutions), Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance on behalf of the Government of India and Ms Teresa Kho, Country Director, ADB’s India Resident Mission on behalf of Asian Development Bank (ADB). 
 
Separate sub-project agreements under the third tranche were signed by Mr. Parmod Kumar, Director (UD), Mr. B.P. Das, Project Director (SIPMIU), Government of Tripura and Mr. Vanlalmawia Renthlei, Joint Secretary, Urban development & Poverty Alleviation Department, Government of Mizoram on behalf of Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), Government of Tripura and Government of Mizoram respectively. 
 
Urban infrastructure and services in the North East of the country are grossly inadequate and this third tranche loan will help Agartala and Aizawl improve and expand services, as well as strengthen the institutional, managerial, and financial capacity of service institutions, the release said.
 
The loan will support further investments to increase access to sustainable and improved urban services, with Aizawl and Agartala cities, selected for financing under the third tranche of the program based on their progress on reforms and implementation performance under earlier tranches, it said.
 
The third tranche loan from ADB’s ordinary capital resources has a 20-year term. The Ministry of Urban Development is responsible for implementing the tranche 3 activities and overall program, which are both due for completion by June 2019. 
 
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BHEL commissions 363.3 MW gas turbine-based Combined Cycle Power Project in Tripura

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The public sector Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) today said it had successfully commissioned the second module of the 2x363.3 MW gas-based Combined Cycle Power Plant (CCPP) of ONGC Thermal Power Corporation (OTPC) in Tripura.
 
Located at Palatana in Udaipur district of Tripura, around 50 kms from Agartala, the CCPP comprises two modules of 363.3 MW each equipped with fuel efficient advanced class Frame 9FA Gas Turbines. 
 
BHEL had won the contract for setting up the CCPP on EPC (Engineering, Procurement & Construction) basis, against international competitive bidding (ICB), a press release from the company said.
 
With the commissioning of this module, BHEL has commissioned nine modules of Frame 9FA Gas Turbines in the combined cycle mode in the country, it said.
 
BHEL has so far commissioned 911 MW of gas-based and hydro sets in Tripura which accounts for 100% of the state's generating capacity. BHEL had earlier commissioned 14 gas turbines of smaller rating upto 21 MW in Tripura as the sizes were limited by logistic constraint. 
 
The Palatana project is the first and the largest of its kind in the entire North-Eastern part of India. BHEL is executing another gas-based project of 100 MW of NEEPCO at Monarchak in Tripura.
 
"Setting up the 726 MW power plant at Palatana was a herculean task. The harsh terrain, incessant rains, and inadequate road infrastructure made the conventional mode of transportation from BHEL's works in Hyderabad to the remote site almost impossible. To overcome logistical constraints, the consignments were transported through multi-modal means of transport, including waterways through Bangladesh under a special agreement with the Government of Bangladesh," the release said.
 
BHEL’s scope of work in the project involved design, engineering, manufacture, supply, erection and commissioning of two Frame 9FA gas turbine generator sets, two steam turbine generator sets and two heat recovery steam generators with state-of-the-art controls & instrumentation, associated auxiliaries and balance of plant, in addition to complete civil works and spares, it added.
 
BHEL had earlier commissioned the first module of the project in January, 2013 and it was dedicated to the ntion by President Pranab Mukherjee in June, 2013.
 
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Ansari dedicates Tripura State Museum, Ujjayanta Palace in Agartala to nation

Vice President M Hamid Ansari going around the Tripura State Museum, Ujjayanta Palace in Agartala after dedicatig it to the nation on September 25, 2013.
Vice President M Hamid Ansari going around the Tripura State Museum, Ujjayanta Palace in Agartala after dedicatig it to the nation on September 25, 2013.
Vice President M Hamid Ansari dedicated the “Tripura State Museum, Ujjayanta Palace” to the nation here today.
 
Speaking on the occasion, he said it was befitting that Tripura had set up the museum in such an impressive heritage building as the Ujjayanta Palace, which once housed the royal family of Tripura and later the State Legislative Assembly, and will now serve as a memorial to the region’s glorious past.
 
The museum, established in 1970, was functioning so far in a small building in the heart of the city.
 
"The new premises will add to its grandeur and its status as an important centre for showcasing the archaeological treasures, sculpture, paintings and the rich tribal culture of the state," he said.
 
Mr Ansari noted that the museum had also embraced a new approach towards its exhibits, adopting a broader national perspective while remaining focused on Tripura and the Northeast. 
 
"Given the cultural exchanges and intermingling of various cultures of the sub-continent and beyond over the centuries, this is a commendable step forward," he said.
 
He also noted that the museum was expected to serve as a centre for active research and cultural activities which will link culture and heritage to broader aspect of human development in the present day context. These are welcome steps and must be applauded, he said.
 
He said the institution would serve as a repository of history, culture and traditions of the state and the region, and will help the people better understand and appreciate the rich history, traditions, art and crafts of the mosaic of highly evolved communities that have inhabited this land from time immemorial.
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"I am sure that this institution will help the people of the state and the region to find their roots as they look forward to a peaceful, harmonious and prosperous future.
 
"Good museums are also an invaluable source of history and heritage of a people and their civilization. They also provide wealth of information and required resources for academics, researchers and students of history, apart from helping the general economy by generating revenue and employment through promotion of tourism. It is in this context as well, that the museum will serve the people of the state in the future," he added.
 
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Ex-Minister Rasheed Masood, 11 others convicted in MBBS admission case

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Former Union Minister of State for Health & Family Welfare Rasheed Masood and 11 others were convicted in a case relating to fraudulently making nomination letters in favour of students known to them for obtaining admission to MBBS and BDS courses in varius colleges.
 
The Special Judge for CBI Cases, Mr J P S Malik, held Mr Masood and the others, including Mr Gurdial Singh, a retired IPS officer and then Resident Commissioner of Tripura, and Mr Amal Kumar Roy, a retired IAS officer and then Secretary to the Chief Minister of Tripura guilty in the case.
 
The nine others are private individuals: Geeta Banik; Bipul Kanti Rakshit; Sonia; Sachidanand Dwivedi; Kumari Kirti; Hemant Saluja; Giti Puri; Roopa Ghosh and Udai Shankar Sharma.
 
They were convicted for offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery and criminal misconduct.
 
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had registered the case on the directions of the Agartala bench of the Guwahati High Court, vide its order of February 1, 1996.
 
It was alleged that the public servants misused their official position on behalf of the Government of India and the Tripura government to fraudulently make nomination letters in favour of students acquainted or known to them for obtaining admissions to MBBS and BDS courses in various colleges situated all over India during the period 1989-1990 out of the quota allotted for students from Tripura.
 
According to the CBI, these public servants were not authorized to nominate any students for any MBBS/ BDS admissions. The students who benefitted from these fraudulent nominations were also ineligible for admissions—they were neither in the merit list as per the entrance examination nor were they permanent residents of Tripura.
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Investigation was conducted in different parts of the country, including Delhi, Tripura, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Puducherry. More than one hundred witnesses and voluminous records were seized to build up the case against the accused persons.
 
The CBI had, at the end of its investigation, filed chargesheets against the 12 accused persons under sections 120-B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) read with sections 420, 468 and 471 of IPC and under section 13 (2) red with section 13 (1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
 
The trial court found the 12 accused persons guilty and convicted them and adjourned the matter to October 1 for awarding sentences to the accused.
 
Mr Masood, who was a minister in the then V P Singh government, is now a Congress member of the Rajya Sabha.
 
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Mukherjee to visit Tripura on June 20-21

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President Pranab Mukherjee will pay a two-day visit to Tripura on June 20-21, during which he will travel to Agartala, Palatana and Suryamaninagar.
 
Mr Mukherjee will attend the 10th convocation of Tripura Central University at Suryamaninagar tomorrow.
 
Later in the day,  he will attend a civic reception being accorded to him by  the Agartala Municipal Council at Agartala. 
 
On Friday, Mr Mukherjee will inaugurate the first unit of the 726 MW gas-based power plant set up by ONGC-Tripura Power Company (OTPC) Limited at Palatana in Gomati district of Tripura. 
 
On the same day he will also attend the 5th convocation of the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Agartala. 
 
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Ansari says destinies of India, Bangladesh interlinked

Vice President M Hamid Ansari meeting Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, at Agartala on January 11, 2012. Tripura Governor  D.Y. Patil and Union Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal are also seen.
Vice President M Hamid Ansari meeting Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, at Agartala on January 11, 2012. Tripura Governor D.Y. Patil and Union Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal are also seen.
Vice-President M Hamid Ansari today said the destinies of India and Bangladesh were interlinked and that the two countries were committed to fashioning economic and trade arrangements, not only for ensuring closer integration of the region with the national economy but also with the economies of neighbouring countries in the region.
 
"Our people share in great measure a common history, culture, language and tradition. They have co-operated and faced challenges together. Our relationship is rooted in shared values and commitment to secularism, multi-party democracy, social justice and fundamental human freedoms," he said in his address at the 9th Convocation of Tripura University at Agartala.
 
Among those present on the occasion were Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, on whom the University conferred degree of Doctor of Literature honoris causa.
 
Ansari said Sheikh Hasina's tireless efforts in upholding democratic values and women`s rights in Bangladesh were recognised and serve as a global benchmark.
 
"We admire your courage, Prime Minister, in facing the threats of terrorism and extremism afflicting humanity, your advocacy of pluralism, moderation and tolerance, and the ambitious agenda of economic growth, welfare and social justice that you have planned for, and implemented in Bangladesh.
 
"Meeting neighbours is always an occasion of happiness and rejoicing. It also provides occasion to review and renew bonds that bind us and address concerns that distract us," he said.
 
Ansari said the landmark visits of Sheikh Hasina to India in January 2010 and of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Dhaka last September elevated the bilateral relationship to new heights.
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He noted that Bangladesh abutted India's North Eastern region and provided critical linkages to its economy, ecology and environment.
 
"Indeed, the North Eastern Region Vision 2020 document approved by the North Eastern Council and released by the Prime Minister in July 2008 reflects the commitment of the Union and various State Governments to the comprehensive, inclusive and accelerated development of the region so as to restore its national economic eminence," he said.
 
He said the Vision document had noted that the region should play “the arrow-head role....in the vanguard of the country’s Look-East Policy”. It specifically calls for “making the Look East Policy meaningful for the region” by improving connectivity with markets of neighbouring countries. It notes that “opening up the land route through Bangladesh could enormously benefit both countries” and calls for diplomatic efforts focused on “improving relations with the neighbours”.
 
Ansari said the commitment was demonstrated when Singh was accompanied by Chief Ministers of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram during his visit to Bangladesh in September 2011. This underscores the great interest and enthusiasm of the States of Northeast India in furthering their engagement with Bangladesh, he said.
 
The Vice-President stressed that Tripura shared a special relationship with Bangladesh.  Having borders with it on three sides, the state and its people had played important roles in the path leading to the birth of Bangladesh. 
 
"We remain confident that implementing the Joint Communiqués issued after the landmark visits of the two Prime Ministers would cement this special relationship through enhancing connectivity between Tripura and Bangladesh and promoting close people to people and business linkages," he said.
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He recalled that 2011 was special for the two countries as it marked two important milestones in their bilateral relationship.
 
"First, Bangladesh celebrated its 40th anniversary of freedom and formation. Second, Bangladesh and India held joint commemorations to mark the sesqui-centenary of the birth of that versatile and multifaceted genius Rabindranath Tagore, who both our nations and our people refer to as kobiguru, Vishwa-kavi and Gurudev and whose pen wrote our respective national anthems.
 
"I myself visited Dhaka in May last year to take part in these celebrations and was struck by how Rabindranath Tagore represents much that is precious in our common heritage and has influenced our intellectual and cultural ethos in an enduring and distinctive manner. 
 
"Let us all work together for the one supreme cause that animated Tagore, the union of all sections of humanity in sympathy and understanding, in truth and love," he said.
 
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