India and Bangladesh had several common problems and threats, and poverty and terrorism were two such which have to be tackled jointly by both countries, Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal said here on Sunday. Speaking at the inaugural function of the 8th round of India-Bangladesh Friendship Dialogue here on Sunday evening, Sonowal also said that both neighbours would also have to ensure that territories in the respective countries were not allowed to be used for any activity inimical to each other.
“We have common enemies, problems and threats, those have to be combated and fought together. Our common enemy is poverty and together we have to fight that. Our common threats which of course are also a global threat are terrorism and fundamentalism. We have to fight them together and have been working together,” he said.
The latest round of India-Bangladesh Friendship Dialogue was organised jointly by the State Innovation and Transformation Aayog (SITA), Assam, in collaboration with the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies, Bangladesh Foundation for Regional Studies (BFRS) and India Foundation (IF).
Stating that terrorism continued to remain one of the most significant threats to peace and stability in the region, chief minister Sonowal said governments of both neighbours would have to commit themselves to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
Sonowal, who also underlined the urgent need to improve market access and remove barriers to trade, including port restrictions on products, to ensure smooth movement of goods across the borders, also expressed hope that inland water transport through Bangladesh would improve soon.
Appreciating the initiative taken up by Bangladesh government for setting up an Assistant High Commissioner’s office in Guwahati, Sonowal said the 22 agreements that were signed by both countries during prime minister Narendra Modi’s last visit to Dhaka would also immensely benefit Assam and the Northeastern region.
“During the prime minister’s visit to Dhaka, India extended a US$2 billion line of credit to Bangladesh and pledged US$5 billion worth of investments. As per the agreements, India’s Reliance Power agreed to invest US$3 billion to set up a 3,000 MW LNG-based power plant which is the single largest foreign investment ever made in Bangladesh. Adani Power will also be setting up a 1600 MW coal-fired power plant at a cost of US$1.5 billion,” he said.
“India and Bangladesh have also signed agreements on maritime safety co-operation and curbing human trafficking and fake Indian currency,” chief minister Sonowal said. He also pointed out some of the issues for resolving through dialogues in the forum which include removal of restrictions in items of trade between India and Bangladesh, particularly through the land route of Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura.
He also raised the issue of dredging the Brahmaputra and Barak rivers to make river routes between the two countries navigable throughout the year. “Expansion of Optical Fibre Cable connectivity from Agartala to the integrated check post at Akhaura in the Indo-Bangla international border to connect Cox Bazar’s submarine bandwidth is also very important,” he said.