Shillong, Nov 26 (IANS) Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma on Thursday flagged off the second leg of the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) Friendship Motor Car Rally from state capital Shillong.
The first leg of the rally, jointly organised by the Kalinga Motor Sports Club of Odisha in partnership with clubs from the neighbouring countries and the union road transport and highways ministry, was flagged off from Bhubaneswar on November 15.
It will culminate in Kolkata on December 2, after covering the state capitals of Jharkhand, Bihar, Sikkim, Bhutan, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Chittagong and Dhaka in Bangladesh.
As many as 77 participants — three women and 74 men — are travelling in 20 SUVs in the rally.
Before flagging off the rally, Sangma said the northeastern states have been engaging with the central government to take up with the neighbouring countries the facilitation for promoting economic activities and people-to-people contact.
“It’s time now to open up these borders, and the borders that we share must become borders of economic activities for the growth and development of the region,” he said.
However, he rued that the northeastern states have been subjected to disadvantages for years due to presence of long international borders.
Highlighting the potential of Meghalaya, the chief minister said his state alone contributes 67 percent of the biodiversity reserves in the country.
He said the rally should be made an annual event, and he would take it up with the Centre.
Meghalaya Transport Minister Horju Donkupar Roy expressed hope that this kind of event will not only bring the region closer with the rest of the world but also boost the overall economic development of the northeastern states.
Kalinga Motor Sports Club president Praveen Chandra Bhanjdeo said the rally aimed to highlight connectivity in the region and the possibility of seamless movement of vehicles across the borders through implementation of the BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement.
This will lead to economic integration of the region and help improve relations with India’s neighbouring countries, he said.