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Mamata-BanerjeeTHMB.jpg Mamata sends trade envoys to Nepal

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Sudeshna Sarkar | 28 Jul, 2011
Losing no time after assuming the reins of former red bastion West Bengal's government, its new chief minister Mamata Banerjee has sent trade envoys to another red fort, neighbouring Nepal, to talk business there.

Headed by D.K. Jaiswal, a delegation from the West Bengal Nepal Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India (WBNCCI) is in Kathmandu to explore developing three towns on the India-Nepal border and give a boost to tourism.

The delegation met Nepal's Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal Wednesday, saying the West Bengal government would like to develop the border towns of Jogbani, Kakarbhitta and Pashupatinagar for joint tourism.

While Jogbani lies on the Nepal-Bihar border, Pashupatinagar and Kakarbhitta are entry points in Nepal leading to West Bengal.

The West Bengal initiative comes close on the heels of India's central government pledging to upgrade four checkposts on the India-Nepal border.

These include Biratagar, another entry point to Nepal from West Bengal.

A press statement issued by the prime minister's office said some members of the trade delegation are already discussing investment in the hotel industry in Nepal and other tourism-related sectors.

The members have also shown interest in investment in hydropower projects, the thorniest sector in Nepal where foreign investors face serious harassment and challenges.

The delegation has requested Nepal to facilitate the trade in necessary goods from India, like sugar and fertilizers.

The visit comes at a time of renewed political turmoil in Nepal.

The five-month-old Khanal government is struggling to survive with its allies, the Maoists, Thursday keeping up the pressure on the premier to reshuffle the cabinet and induct new Maoist ministers or face the removal of their support.

The communist PM is also under fire from the opposition, the Nepali Congress party, which began a blockade of parliament since this week, demanding his resignation.
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