India-Bangladesh private car, cargo road trials in May
New Delhi: The trial runs for passenger car and cargo traffic between Delhi and Dhaka and Kolkata and Khulna under the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) initiative will take place in the last week of May.
A senior official from the road ministry said on the condition of anonymity that before the trial run, a workshop will be held in early May where officials from both India and Bangladesh along with state government representatives from West Bengal, Tripura and Meghalaya will discuss policy and security issues.
Another officer working on the BBIN project said one of the key issues which needs to be sorted out is how to monitor passengers or private cars and taxis and cargo vehicles. “With increasing terrorist threats, the home affair ministry has a few concerns and these too would be sorted out in this workshop,” he said, also requesting not to be named.
The road ministry official said that the road minister is keen on completing this project before 26 May so that it can showcase it during the second anniversary celebrations of the National Democratic Alliance government. However, he was sceptical if everything would materialize in such a short time frame.
Notably, bus services have started between India and its two South Asian neighbours Nepal and Bangladesh. These services are between Delhi and Kathmandu, Varanasi and Kathmandu, Kolkata and Agartala via Dhaka, and between Guwahati and Dhaka.
Under the BBIN initiative, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has identified over two dozen road projects worth $8 billion to be developed over the next five years to fill and upgrade critical connections in the BBIN area. The project is being undertaken to kick-start a smaller eastern sub-regional grouping.
Officials say the project will help India in various ways. For example, it would help develop the north-eastern region of India through cross-border cooperation, strengthen trade relations with eastern (Bangladesh) and north-eastern (Bhutan and Nepal) neighbouring countries and improve sub-regional connectivity with southeast Asia.
BBIN is one of the NDA government’s sub-regional initiatives for road connectivity between Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and India. On 15 June 2015, a Motor Vehicle Agreement was signed at Thimphu in Bhutan by the transport ministers of the four countries to regulate passengers, personnel and cargo vehicular traffic between BBIN countries.