Agartala– Bangladesh will restore the pre-1965 railway connectivity with India that was disrupted by the India-Pakistan war, Bangladesh Industry Minister Amir Hossain Amu said on Thursday.
“The Bangladesh government would like to bring substantive changes in terms of connectivity with India. We would restore the pre-1965 railway links on priority basis,” he said while addressing the third ‘North East Connectivity Summit’ in Agartala.
He said: “Air connectivity between Guwahati and Dhaka and Shillong and Agartala via Dhaka could be explored after examining the commercial viability.”
The visiting minister said Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar, known as BCIM region, is one of the richest in the world in terms of resources.
“The region, with a population of 440 million, covers nine per cent of the world’s total area and 7.3 per cent of the global gross domestic product.”
Amu said over the past seven years, Bangladesh and India have witnessed tremendous progress in almost all areas, including security, connectivity, power, trade and commerce.
“To boost trade and commerce between Bangladesh and India’s north-east region, we are improving trade infrastructure, immigration, customs facilities, developing land ports. Bangladesh is north-east India’s natural business partner,” the minister added.
India’s External Affairs Ministry’s Joint Secretary Partha Satpathy said India’s ‘Act East Policy’ has been extremely successful in terms of diplomacy for development, regional security, energy security, political aspects and other vital issues.
“Several connectivity-related projects are now underway to connect north-east India with south-east Asian countries. India is playing a vital role in important regional bodies like the South-east Asian Nations or Asean and BIMSTEC to provide greater global exposure to the regional grouping,” Satpathy said.
Headquartered in Dhaka, BIMSTEC includes India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Myanmar for multi-sectoral technical and economic cooperation.
Tripura Commerce and Industry Minister Tapan Chakraborty said the northeast with four per cent of India’s population and eight per cent geographical area had vast untapped resources.
Nagaland Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang emphasised on building road infrastructure, development and people-to-people connectivity.
He opposed the border fencing with Myanmar, and instead asked the central government to undertake more developmental projects along the India-Myanmar border.
Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said due to the central government’s impractical policies, resources of the northeast remained untapped.
Addressing the summit, NITI Aayog member Bibek Debroy said it would aid, facilitate and monitor governmental schemes, plans and projects in the country.
The three-day summit has been organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) and supported by the Tripura government.
Ficci’s North East Advisory Council Chairman Ranjit Barthakur said that during the three-day summit experts, diplomats, officials and investors would discuss infrastructure development, information technology, healthcare, agriculture, bamboo plantation, connectivity, development of border infrastructure and development of road, air and water connectivity in the region.