Updated: March 10, 2021 1:10:29 am
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday inaugurated the Bharat Bangla Maitri Bridge in Tripura’s South district, saying it would serve as a new trade corridor between the two countries.
“The connectivity through this bridge will not only give more strength to our cordial ties with Bangladesh but also boost trade relations, helping the Northeast states grow. The project will enhance people-to-people contact and open up scope for deeper economic and trade ties.” The PM said after inaugurating the Maitri bridge virtually.
The National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) was assigned the project and the bridge came up at a cost of Rs 133 crores.
While lauding the successful completion of the big-ticket infrastructure project, the PM also congratulated the BJP-TPFT government, led by Chief Minister Biplab Deb, for completing three years in power. He said the rousing people’s mandate and their choice of a ‘double-engine’ government (BJP at the Centre and state) three years ago brought more speed to development work. “People of Tripura can feel the difference between 30 years of Left rule and the BJP-led government of today,” he said.
Highlighting the progress made under the BJP-led rule just months ahead of the election to the autonomous tribal council, Modi said the fruits of central schemes are being transferred directly to the back accounts of beneficiaries as opposed to previous years when benefits were hard to come by without ‘commission and corruption’.
Seeking to drive home the message that the BJP had fulfilled many of the promises on the virtue of which it stormed to power, the PM said state employees are now getting their wages as per Seventh Pay Commission while the farmers are availing the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for their produce. He also mentioned wage hike for unskilled labourers, from Rs 135 to Rs 205, under the Centre’s flagship MGNREGA scheme, ease of doing business replacing the ‘hartal culture’ under the previous regime, drinking water connections for over 2 lakh rural households and over 8 lakh domestic LPG connections, among several other achievements.
He added that all villages of the state have attained Open Defecation Free status as part of the Centre’s Swachhata Abhiyan (Cleanliness Drive).
On the ongoing resettlement of Bru migrants from Mizoram, a vexed issue for 24 years, the PM said the Centre sanctioned a financial package worth Rs 600 crores for bringing about a positive change to their lives. “All these development goals could be realized because of a double engine government,” he said.
He added that his government has significantly augmented the financial allotment for the development of Tripura as compared to the previous Congress-led UPA. Figures bear out the PM’s claim as the state was allocated Rs 12,000 crores between 2014 and 2019, significantly more than Rs 350 crores worth of central funds sanctioned between 2009 and 2014.
The PM also laid foundation stones for a host of other development and infrastructure projects for the state in virtual mode, including the second Integrated Check Post at Sabroom, National Highway 208 spanning 80 kms and connecting Unakoti and Khowai districts, a multi-level car parking project and a commercial complex, in addition to a bouquet of other infrastructure and housing projects worth Rs 200 crores. These include widening of existing roads to four lanes, constructing 40,978 houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) and setting up an Integrated Command and Control Centre under Agartala Smart City Mission for better city management.
“I had promised HIRA-wala development to you (Tripura people). HIRA means Highways, I-ways, Railways and Airways. There has been a rapid and marked improvement in Tripura’s connectivity. All projects for which the foundation stone was laid today are part of HIRA. A new one, waterways, has been added to it,” the PM said.
The Integrated Check Post at Sabroom is expected to open new avenues to market products of N-E states, help movement of goods and passengers between India and Bangladesh. The estimated cost of the project has been pegged at Rs 232 crores.
The Press Information Bureau (PIB), in a release, said Tripura is set to become the ‘Gateway of Northeast’ with access to Chittagong Port in Bangladesh, which is just 80 kms from Sabroom.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also congratulated the two countries for the opening of the bridge. Tripura CM and his cabinet colleagues were among the top dignitaries at the massive gathering in state capital Agartala which Modi addressed virtually.
In his address, the CM said he was hopeful that a ‘new Tripura’ would take shape by 2023. He later tweeted that the PM’s model of good governance has transformed Tripura over the last three years and made it an example worth emulating for bigger states.
Tripura shares an 856 km-long border with Bangladesh and has eight
Land Custom Stations, two Border Haats and one operational Integrated Check Post. Since taking charge, Deb has pushed for new trade and connectivity routes to the neighbouring country to offset the disadvantages of being a landlocked state in the Northeast.
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