After the recent agreement with Bangladesh to ensure connectivity in South Asia on the eastern side,India took another such initiative with Nepal.
During the visit of the President of Nepal,Dr Ram Baran Yadav to India a new air services agreement was signed between the two countries on February 16. A Memorandum of Understanding was also signed between the two countries for railway infrastructure development at five border points along Nepal-India border.
Another MoU was signed for development of Nepal Bharat Maitri Polytechnic at Hetauda in Makwanpur district in Nepal. MoU for establishment of Nepal Bharat Maitri Sabha Griha in Birgunj was also signed
Earlier India and Bangladesh had agreed that Rohanpur-Singabad broad gauge railway link would be available for transit to Nepal. Bangladesh has planned to convert Radhikapur-Birol railway line into broad gauge for railway transit link to Bhutan.
India has announced a line of credit of US$ one billion to Bangladesh for a range of projects,including railway infrastructure,supply of BG locomotives and passenger coaches,rehabilitation of Saidpur workshop,procurement of buses including articulate buses and dredging projects. India has agreed to consider the request for assistance to construct road infrastructure in Dhaka. Bangladesh has asked India to construct a flyover across Tin Bigha Corridor for exclusive use by India as greed earlier.
For facilitating trade,Ashuganj in Bangladesh and Silghat in India will be declared as ports of call. A joint team will assess the improvement of infrastructure and the cost for one-time or longer term transportation of over dimensional cargo from Ashuganj. India will make necessary investment. Bangladesh has agreed to allow the use of Monga and Chittagong sea ports for movement of goods to and from India through road and rail. Bangladesh would give access to these two ports also to Nepal and Bhutan. Trucks from Bhutan and Nepal will be allowed to enter about 200 meters into zero-point at Banglabandh-Phulbari land customs station a decision which would ensure South Asian connectivity on the eastern side.
For facilitating the movement of the people of both the countries,it was agreed to start the Maitree Express between Kolkata and Dhaka. The construction of the proposed Akhaura-Agartala railway link will be financed by grant from India.
India and Bangladesh had agreed to operationalise land customs stations at Sabroom-Ramgarh and Demagiri-Thegamukh and strengthen the infrastructure of both new and existing land customs stations. It was agreed to set up border haats on pilot basis at select points,including that on Meghalaya border which would ensure connectivity to the remote northeastern India.
The leaders in the South Asian region are gradually feeling the growing need for connectivity and people-to-people movement. A beginning is being made in the eastern part of South Asia with India,Bangladesh,Nepal and Bhutan committing to work together. There is also a need for South Asian leaders to ensure that the region remain free from any terrorist activity as this would ensure peace and security for the people in the region. Good neighbourly relations between countries in the region is the need of the hour.