“Bangladesh is making a significant contribution to India’s economy, especially in the North Eastern region” Bangladesh Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam on Wednesday said this.
He also said that the infrastructure projects under construction are going to be engines of growth not only for Bangladesh but also for Nepal, Bhutan and the Northeast as they can be harnessed.
The minister said the Sheikh Mujibur Rahman tunnel under construction under the Karnaphuli river, the first of its kind in South Asia, the Matarbari and Payra deep sea ports, the Matarbari coal-fired power plant with 1,200 MW power generation capacity, the Hazrat Shah Jalal International Airport in Dhaka, The third terminal, and the Padma bridge rail link project will largely benefit Northeast India, Nepal and Bhutan.
He told the media that the maximum number of tourists, including medical tourists, come to India from Bangladesh.
Addressing a conference in Agartala, Alam said thousands of Indians are working in various service sectors in Bangladesh which has become one of the biggest sources of inward remittances for India.
Alam said that last month the Prime Ministers of India and Bangladesh had jointly inaugurated the ‘India Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline’, due to which Bangladesh’s diesel import from India has increased manifold at a much cheaper price. Total trade between the two countries has tripled during the last decade, while a large amount of untapped potential remains.
We should increase bilateral trade in a balanced manner by removing tariff and non-tariff barriers, develop and modernize border infrastructure, he said.
The minister said that being geographically contiguous, Bangladesh and Northeast India are much more than neighboring countries.
He said India and Bangladesh have agreed to restore pre-1965 connectivity through rail, road, ports and inland waterways to accelerate joint economic development.
The 1972 Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade was the first instrument that offered India the use of Bangladesh’s inland waterways to move goods from other parts of India to the Northeast region, said Shahriar Alam.
Both countries have signed agreement on use of Chattogram and Mongla port for movement of goods to and from India. At the request of India, especially the government of former Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina extended all support to the construction of the Friendship Bridge over the Feni River at Sabroom in southern Tripura. This will help the northeastern states of India to have easy access to the Chattogram port using Bangladesh territory, alam said.
The minister said- Bangladesh is keen to join the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway (IMTTH) to connect itself with South East Asia, and expressed hope that India would facilitate their entry into this trilateral highway which is a political issue in Myanmar. The situation has caused shock.
Alam said greater Japanese participation would pave the way for comprehensive development, especially for Bangladesh and Northeast India.