New Delhi: India on Monday cemented its credentials as a key development partner of Bangladesh with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterpart Sheikh Hasina jointly inaugurating two railway projects and a power link through which New Delhi would export an additional 500 megawatts (MW) of power to Dhaka.
The inauguration of the three projects was done via video conference with Tripura chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee joining in.
“The Bangladesh Prime Minister has set a goal of bringing her country into the middle income category by 2021 and into the developed countries’ category in by 2041," Modi said. “It is a matter of pride for India to help make this vision a reality," Modi said.
One of the railway projects that received the green signal on Monday involves the construction of a 15.5 kilometre railway link between Akhaura in Bangladesh and Agartala in Tripura. The project was agreed to when Sheikh Hasina visited New Delhi in 2010 and is expected to be operational in the next two years. It will aim to boost trade and connectivity between Bangladesh and the landlocked northeast. It will also reduce the travel time and distance between Kolkata and Agartala. India and Bangladesh started a train service between Kolkata and Dhaka in 2008. With a line already existing between Dhaka and Akhaura, the Akhaura-Agartala section when completed will allow seamless travel between Kolkata and Agartala through Bangladesh.
The second railway project involves the rebuilding the Kulaura-Shahbazpur section of Bangladesh Railways, which existed in the days before the partition of the Indian subcontinent. It is seen as part of a trans Asian railway project that seeks to connect South Asia to Southeast Asia.
The third project is the 500MW additional power supply from India to Bangladesh, through the existing Bheramara-Baharampur interconnection. With this, the total amount of electricity exported by India to Bangladesh will reach 1.016GW with Banerjee offering to export another 1,000MW of power. “This quantum jump in electricity export from megawatt to gigawatt is a symbol of the golden chapter in relations between India and Bangladesh," Modi said.