Illegal immigration to increase in future: Conrad

Govt to put mechanisms in place

Shillong, Apr 12: Chief Minister, Conrad K Sangma on Thursday warned that illegal immigration from Bangladesh will increase with rise in economic activity in the region even as he said that climate change will be another factor for their movement into the northeast.

“Even now with less economic activities there is illegal immigration, but with economic development it will increase. We can’t stop but mechanisms should be put in place,” Conrad said while replying to the short duration discussion during the Budget Session of the Meghalaya Assembly on Thursday.

The chief minister also said that as per study, with the effects of climate change in Bangladesh around 50 million persons will be dislocated from that country and the worst affected states in the northeast will be Meghalaya and Tripura.

Trying to defend criticisms from the opposition against the proposal to issue work permits to Bangladeshi nationals, Conrad said that there should be a balance between economic development and illegal immigration.

“If process is too tight economic development will suffer and if the process is too loose illegal immigration will occur,” the chief minister told the House.

He, however, said that there will be no compromise on the identity and land of the indigenous people of the state.

Earlier, the chief minister said that during his recent meeting with External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi, they discussed the Act East Policy and how it can open up the economy of the north eastern region if there is robust trade with the South Asian and South East Asian countries.

He also said that the work permit for Bangladeshi nationals came up for discussion with the External Affairs Minister but no such proposals were made.

Conrad pointed out that pre-independence the north east had the highest per capita income in the country since the region used to trade with neighbouring countries but now physical boundaries has stopped all such activities.

“Now goods to Bangladesh can only be exported through Kolkata but not through Dawki or Dalu,” the chief minister pointed out.

He also said that there is need to open up minds and realise the potential that lies for trade with the nations bordering the region.

Conrad also said that trade with the neighbouring countries and beyond will also generate employment and those indulging in trade can also be job creators.