A day after the Bangladesh Cabinet allowed India to use Chittagong and Mongla ports for goods movement from India to the Northeast, New Delhi and Dhaka decided to initiate work on a crucial oil pipeline and a key railway project. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart, Sheikh Hasina, unveiled e-plaques for the ceremony of these two projects through video-conferencing.
Sources said Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu will travel to Dhaka around September 23 to take stock of these developments.
Called the India-Bangladesh Friendship pipeline, the 130-km pipeline is aimed at pumping Indian oil to Bangladesh with an annual capacity of 1 million tonnes. The proposed pipeline is expected to energise not just Bangladesh’s economy but also the relationship between the neighbouring countries.
The other project is the construction of the third and fourth dual-gauge railway tracks on the Dhaka-Tongi section and the dual-gauge tracks of Tongi-Joydevpur section of Bangladesh Railway. The proposed railway project will help strengthen national and urban transport in Bangladesh.
India and Bangladesh had signed an MoU in Dhaka on April 9 to set up the 130-km oil pipeline. India will supply fuel oil from its Numaligarh Refinery Limited in Golaghat, Assam, and Bangladesh will receive the oil at Parbatipur depot of Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation in Dinajpur.
Speaking on the occasion, Modi described the cooperation between the two countries as an “example for the world”. He said the two are geographically neighbours and emotionally family. On completion of the railway project, Dhaka’s railway communication with Gazipur, Tangail, Narsingdi, Bramhanbaria, Cumilla, Mymensingh and Jamalpur would improve to a great extent. Travel time would be reduced on these routes and trains can run on schedule set by the railway authorities.
On Monday, the Bangladesh Cabinet had approved a proposed agreement with India, enabling the neighbouring country to use Chittagong and Mongla ports for goods movement to and from India. The agreement will allow India to use Chittagong and Mongla ports to carry goods to the country’s north-eastern states in a short span of time.
Bangladesh officials said four routes were suggested for goods movements: Chittagong Port/Mongla Port-Agartala via Akhaura; Chittagong/Mongla-Daouki via Tamabil; Chitta-gong/Mongla-Sutarkandi via Sheola; and Chittagong/Mongla-Bibekbazar via Simantapur.
While the pact will be signed between Bangladesh and India, later Nepal and Bhutan can join, Bangladesh officials said.
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