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Bangladesh-Northeast connectivity: India and Bangladesh PMs create history

BNE News Desk


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Guwahati: The start of the Akhaura-Agartala rail link is a historic one, for the first time connecting Bangladesh with India’s Northeast, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today while jointly inaugurating three projects along with Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina.

Modi and Sheikh Hasina jointly inaugurated the Akhaura-Agartala cross-border rail link project and two other Indian-assisted development projects today via video conferencing.

At exactly 12.23pm on Wednesday, the two prime ministers appeared on an online event and inaugurated the projects. It was a testimony of the massive $10bn development portfolio between the two countries. India is the largest development partner of Bangladesh.

“Our trade has tripled in last nine years. Today the Akhaura-Agartala rail link inauguration is a historic occasion. This is the first rail link between Bangladesh and Northeast,” said Modi in his inaugural address. Tripura chief minister Manik Saha as well as foreign minister S. Jaishankar, railway minister Ashwani Vaishnav, union power minister RK Singh and DoNER minister G Kishan Reddy were part of the historic event.

The 12.24-km line between Tripura and Bangladesh is worth $150mn.On Tuesday, the first goods train concluded a trial run on meter gauge entering Nischintapur from Bangladesh. The length of the rail link is 12.24 km with a 6.78 km Dual Gauge rail line in Bangladesh and 5.46 km in Tripura.The distance from Gangasagar to Nishchintapur is 6.1 km and the total project length is 12.24 km including 5.46 km in Tripura and 6.7 km in Bangladesh. Gangasagar is the first station on the Bangladesh side that connects India via Nischintapur, say railway sources.

The Bangladesh prime minister was gushing in praise about India’s role in the neighbouring country’s development. “The three projects will ensure the prosperity of the people of both countries. The rail link will enhance connectivity and trade, promoting economy and growth and people to people contact, particularly with the northeast part of India,” Sheikh Hasina said in her address.

The other two projects are: Khulna - Mongla Port Rail Line; and Unit – II of the Maitree Super Thermal Power Plant.The Khulna-Mongla Port Rail Line Project has been implemented under Government of India concessional Line of Credit with a total project cost of $388.92 million. The project entails construction of approximately 65 kms of broad gauge rail route between Mongla Port and the existing rail network in Khulna. With this, Mongla, the second largest port of Bangladesh, gets connected with the broad-gauge railway network. 

The Maitree Super Thermal Power Project under Indian Concessional Financing Scheme loan of USD 1.6 billion, is a 1320 MW (2x660) Super Thermal Power Plant (MSTPP) located in Rampal in Khulna Division of Bangladesh. The project has been implemented by the Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company (Private) Limited (BIFPCL), which is a 50:50 Joint Venture company between India's NTPC Ltd and Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB). 

Unit I of the Maitree Super Thermal Power Plant was unveiled jointly by both Prime Ministers in September 2022 and Unit 2 inaugurated on today. The operationalization of Maitree Super Thermal Power Plant will enhance energy security in Bangladesh.

The Maitree Super Thermal Power Project under Indian Concessional Financing Scheme loan of USD 1.6 billion, is a 1320 MW (2x660) Super Thermal Power Plant (MSTPP) located in Rampal in Khulna Division of Bangladesh. The project has been implemented by the Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company (Private) Limited (BIFPCL), a 50:50 Joint Venture company between India's NTPC and Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB).

These projects will strengthen connectivity and energy security in the region, said Sheikh.

Prime Minister Modi said that relations between the two countries are reaching a new high. 

“In the last nine years the work we have done has not been done in many past decades. We have done the land boundary agreement, resolved maritime boundary issues and focused on infrastructure and connectivity. Three new bus services - from Dhaka to Shillong, Guwahati, Agartala have been connected,” said Modi.

Three new railway lines also added, he said. Container and parcel trains have also started while inland waterways have been developed. Through this route, export route has opened between Bangladesh and Tripura.

In last nine years, Chittagong and Mongla port have connected Northeast. Oxygen trains reached Bangladesh during Covid-19. Four new immigration check posts have been added, he said.

Interestingly all three projects were decided upon by the two leaders and have also been dedicated to the people by the same two leaders.

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BNE News Desk