After remaining closed for 70 years, part of the Silk Route between India and China will see a select set of 80 travellers cruising along it in 20 SUVs in the next 13 days.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee flagged off the cars participating in the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Rally 2013, the first ever to cover the over 3000 km distance by road between Kolkata and Kunmin (Yunnan), going via Bangladesh and Myanmar.
The rally according to Mamata will revive the route and give a boost to the underdeveloped regions including the northeast. “The northeast has always been neglected though it has enough cultural and commercial potential.
The opening of the route can lead to immense growth in trade, commerce and business opportunities among the four countries,” said Mamata. “You will be our ambassadors to bring peace in our country,” she added.
The team of 80 rallyists include representatives from ministries, media and entertainment along with engineers and rallyists from the four countries. They will cross Jessore, Dhaka, Sylhet, Silchar, Imphal, Ka Lay, Mandalay, Ruili, Tengchong and Dali before reaching the southwest China province. Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has organised the rally.
Mamata expressed agreement with CII president Adi Godrej’s three-point agenda to revive the route. “The BCIM initiative needs to be fast-tracked at the government level and the roadmap be developed for future use. Secondly, most of the route had to be reconstructed for the purpose of this rally.
Like the Kaladan corridor between India and Myanmar, multi-modal border needs to be developed on the Silk route too. Finally, industry needs to be promoted on the route, like agricultural machinery and MSME sector,” said Godrej.
The idea to reopen the route, which culminated in the symbolic rally, came up in 2006 when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese President Hu Jintao spoke about developing regional connectivity in a joint statement.
“I look forward to communicating with people from other cultures and exploring the region’s natural beauty while on this trip,” said Mohammad Moniruzzaman Khan, producer (news) Bangladesh Television, who is also participating in the rally.