Agartala: Bangladesh railway minister Mujibal Haque said an initiative has been taken to reconnect railway lines with India in 12 places, which were snapped after partition of the country in 1947.

“We want to restore all the railway lines which existed before the partition of India. Now the initiative is on to restore rail connectivity in twelve places between Bangladesh and India. Both the governments are cooperating with each other in this regard," he told reporters in Agartala Friday evening.

Haque was in the city to attend a conference of Rotary Clubs of both the countries. Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar inaugurated the conference. The Bangladesh minister said the second rail bridge on the Titas and the Bhoirab rivers in Brahmanbaria district of his country was completed with funding from India, and that it would be inaugurated soon.

Apart from the ‘Moitree Express’ which runs between Dhaka and Kolkata, he said another train ‘Bandhan Express’ to run between Khulna in Bangladesh and Kolkata, was likely to be launched next month. “There is also a proposal from Bangladesh side to launch a train to connect Rajshahi in Bangladesh and Kolkata," he said.

Haque noted that the progress of the 15km long ongoing Agartala-Akhaura project was satisfactory and land acquisition for the purpose in Bangladesh side was complete. Land acquisition for the project in Indian side has also been completed, West Tripura district magistrate and collector Milind Ramteke told reporters earlier.

The central government has released Rs97.63 crore to acquire the land, he said. The process of laying railway tracks to connect Agartala with Akhaura in Bangladesh would be completed next year, Haque said. Out of the 15km track, 5km would be on Indian side and the rest in Bangladesh.

Ramteke stated that the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) was the nodal agency for implementation of the project in Indian side. Former railway minister Suresh Prabhu and Haque had jointly laid the foundation stone of the project in Agartala on 31 July. A flyover of 3.7km will be constructed on the Indian side to save cultivable lands and the entire project cost will be borne by the central government.

New Delhi is keen to establish the rail link as it will connect West Bengal and Tripura through Bangladesh. The 1,700km distance between Agartala and Kolkata, which goes through the chicken neck in Siliguri, would be reduced to 350km if passengers could move through Bangladesh, officials said.

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