Bilateral Ties Bettered Since '14: PM Modi

Modi flags off India-aided projects in Bangladesh

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday jointly inaugurated three Indian-assisted development projects -- the Akhaura- Agartala Cross-Border Rail Link; Khulna-Mongla Port Rail Line; and Unit 2 of the Maitree Super Thermal Power Plant via video-conferencing, with these projects set to strengthen connectivity and energy security in the region. Expressing happiness at the success, Mr Modi said in his remarks that the achievements in the past nine years in bilateral ties was more than in the past several decades. Hailing it as a “historic moment”, he said the Akhaura-Agartala Cross-Border Rail Link was the first rail link between India’s Northeast and Bangladesh.

The Prime Minister said India was proud to be Bangladesh’s biggest development partner and recalled how the same leadership of the two countries had both decided upon and delivered on these three projects. He also spoke about Indian assistance towards a “Smart” Bangladesh and expressed satisfaction at 12 information technology parks being built in Bangladesh with India’s help. Tripura chief minister Manik Saha also participated in the event, with Mr Modi pointing out Tripura's role in Bangladesh’s freedom struggle in 1971. India is further strengthening its ties with Bangladesh at a time when China is increasing its influence in South Asia.

In her remarks, the Bangladesh Prime Minister was quoted as saying: “The joint inauguration of these important projects manifests the firm friendship and collaboration between our two friendly countries. I would like to thank Mr Modi for the warm hospitality during my visit in September 2023 to attend the G-20 Summit.” She added: “I express my gratitude for your commitment to strengthening the bonds of friendship between our two countries”.

“The Akhaura-Agartala Cross-Border Rail Link project has been executed under Government of India grant assistance of Rs 392.52 crores extended to 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 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 km 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 MEA had said earlier on Tuesday.

The MEA had added: “The Maitree Super Thermal Power Project, under Indian Concessional Financing Scheme loan of $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 (Pvt) Ltd (BIFPCL), which is a 50-50 joint venture company between India's NTPC Ltd and Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB). Unit 1 of the Maitree Super Thermal Power Plant was unveiled jointly by both Prime Ministers in September 2022 and Unit 2 will be inaugurated on November 1, 2023. The operationalisation of Maitree Super Thermal Power Plant will enhance energy security in Bangladesh.”

Speaking further about bilateral cooperation, Mr Modi highlighted the achievements in the past nine years including the land boundary agreement and resolution of the maritime boundary with Bangladesh. He spoke about the bilateral focus on both connectivity and infrastructure initiatives to meet the aspirations of people of both nations. He spoke about how three bus services had been started between the two nations in the past nine years linking Dhaka, Agartala, Shillong, Guwahati and Kolkata. Mr Modi also spoke about three rail links between the two nations being established as well in the past nine years. He said that in these past nine years, inland waterways have been used for movement of pasengers and goods between the two nations. He also spoke about connectivity to India's Northeast in the past nine years through the Chittagong and Mongla ports.

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