IMPHAL, December 15: The ASEAN-India Car Rally, 2012 in commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of the ASEAN-India dialogue partnership and the 10th Anniversary of the ASEAN-India summit level partnership reached Imphal this noon at around 1pm.
The rally participated by 31 cars and including 116 participants arrived into the state capital amidst a warm welcome from the locals including school students who stood along the route.
The participants of the car rally were from 10 countries including Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Mayanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
The state government led by Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh and his council of Ministers also held a reception function at the Kangla fort.
According to a DIPR release, earlier in the morning, a team led by Commerce and Industries Minister Govindas Konthoujam, Parliamentary Secretary (IPR) K Megachnadra and MLA DK Korungthang received the Car Rally at Moreh on crossing from Myanmar.
The rally was flagged off from Yogjakarta Palace Square, Yogjakarta, Indonesia on November 26, 2012 and after covering about 7000 kms through 8 ASEAN countries it reached Manipur today, the release said.
Meanwhile, speaking at the reception function, state Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh said, “It gives me immense pleasure to welcome the participants of the Rally to my State of Manipur”.
He said, “I am informed that 2012 is the 20th Anniversary of the ASEAN-India dialogue partnership and the 10th anniversary of ASEAN-India Summit-level partnership. I also understand that the Govt. of India is hosting the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit at New Delhi from 20 to 21 December, 2012 under the theme `ASEAN-India Partnership for Peace and Shared Prosperity`.
He said, “The Summit is expected to adopt the `ASEAN-India Vision Statement 2020`, which would chart the future direction of ASEAN-India relations”.
The CM said, “Enhancing relations with ASEAN has been central to India`s “Look East Policy” and, we are happy to note that there has been steady progress in the ASEAN-India relations since the policy was initiated in 1991”.
“The ASEAN-India Car Rally 2012 was flagged-off from Yogjakarta in Indonesia”.
“Most particpants may not be aware that Manipur and its people have had a long historical and close cultural relationship with the most South East Asian countries. Ethnically and culturally, we have a lot in common. I am sure you feel at home when you are in Manipur”, he said.
He also said that the state is located on the Asian Highways No.1 and N02, and is India`s Gateway to South East Asia connecting the cities of East Asia, namely, Tokyo and Bali to the cities in West in Turkey and Iraq.
Manipur is strategically located on the Trilateral Highway connecting India, Myanmar and Thailand through Moreh in Manipur via Mandalay in Myanmar to Mae Sot in Thailand, he continued.
He further expressed that with active initiative of our Ministry of External Affairs and co-operation of ASEAN countries, road connectivity between Manipur end South East Asia is improving with the Indo-Myanmar Friendship Road connecting Tamu and Kalemyo in neighbouring Myanmar.
He added that under the dynamic leadership of AICC president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, further improvement of road connectivity between Kalewa to Monywa in Myanmar will happen in the next couple of years.
“We are also doing our part to improve the National Highway in our state from Moreh to Mao”, he said.
The CM also expressed that besides road connectivity, Imphal City is expected to have rail connectivity by 201 6 which will become the backbone of the Trans-Asian Railway Network.
He also added that the Airports Authority of India has initiated work on upgrading Imphal Airport to international standards within the 12th Plan period.
“We expect Imphal to become hub for international flights to and from ASEAN countries and thus open up new opportunities for cultural and sports exchanges, trade, tourism and business”, he said.
“I am given to understand that an Agreement, for introduction of a bus service between Imphal and Mandalay, is expected to be signed between the Government of India and the Government of the Union of Myanmar during the forthcoming visit of the President of Myanmar to New Delhi early next year”, he said.
Later the state Chief Minister handed mementos of Kangla Sha to the leaders of the different teams representing their country in the ASEAN-India car rally
Cultural programmes were also showcases during the function.