Bangladesh provides critical link to economy, ecology, environment of north-east: Ansari

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday said the connectivity between India and Bangladesh, particularly with the north-eastern States, including Tripura, would generate tremendous economic vibrancy, leading to peoples' empowerment and overall development of the region.

Ms. Hasina, who was on a two-day visit to Tripura, urged India, Nepal and Bhutan to make the best use of Chittagong and Mongla ports, which Bangladesh had already opened for these neighbouring countries, to access the sea route for their trade and commercial activities.

“Physical connectivity with countries in the South Asian region and beyond has become a major drive of my foreign policy,” Ms. Hasina said in her speech after being conferred the honorary D. Litt (Honoris Causa) degree at the 9th convocation of Tripura University. The degree was formally handed over to her by Vice-President M. Hamid Ansari.

She expressed confidence that initiative with Tripura, including the Akhaura-Agartala rail link; operation of Ashuganj as a multimodal trans-shipment point under the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade for transportation of Indian goods to Agartala; transportation of Over Dimensional Cargo for the Palatana power project; the bridge over Feni river; use of Chittagong and Mongla Ports by India, Nepal and Bhutan; operation of the Ramgarh-Sabroom Land Custom Station; four new border haats (markets); when implemented would enhance Tripura's development.

Later at the civic reception accorded to her by the Agartala Municipal Corporation at Assam Rifles ground, Ms. Hasina said Bangladesh was keen to undertake a joint venture project for power generation through utilisation of the vast natural gas reserve in Tripura and that once such projects were realised, her country would also buy power from them. She also said that four new border haats would be set up by India and Bangladesh to facilitate trade.

Identifying poverty as the biggest common enemy of India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan, the Bangladesh Prime Minister said although national efforts to eliminate it were important, it was not possible without regional prosperity and economic development, which in turn was not possible without an excellent network of connectivity of roads, railways, waterways and close people-to-people contact.

In his address at the convocation, Mr. Ansari said Bangladesh provided critical links to the economy, ecology and environment of the north-east region. He said India was committed to fashioning economic and trade arrangements, not only for ensuring closer integration of the region with the national economy, but also with the neighbouring economies.

Vice-Chancellor of Tripura University Professor Arunoday Saha said the conferment of the honorary D. Litt on Ms. Hasina was in acknowledgement of her contribution to peace, development and women empowerment in the sub-continent. The convocation was also addressed by Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, Tripura Governor D.Y. Patil, and Chancellor of Tripura University A.K. Bagchi.

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