In a major boost to connectivity between India and Bangladesh, two bus services were flagged off on Saturday by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Dhaka.
The bus services — Kolkata-Dhaka-Agartala and Dhaka-Shillong-Guwahati — will link West Bengal to three North Eastern states of India via Bangaldeshi capital Dhaka.
During the flag off ceremony on the first day of Mr. Modi’s visit, he handed over a symbolic ticket of the Agartala-Dhaka-Kolkata service to Ms. Hasina and she handed over a symbolic ticket of Dhaka-Shillong-Guwahati service to her Indian counterpart. Ms. Banerjee gave Ms. Hasina a symbolic ticket of the Kolkata-Dhaka-Agartala service.
These bus services are aimed at improving people-to-people contact between the neighbouring countries by enhancing connectivity.
There would be two buses on the Kolkata-Agartala-Dhaka route, one of which would be run by the West Bengal government and the other by the Tripura government.
The solo bus in the Dhaka-Shillong-Guwahati route would be run by the Bangladeshi government. Buses on this route would originate three days a week each from Guwahati and Dhaka, respectively.
People of the North Eastern states of Tripura, Meghalaya and Assam, which share extensive boundaries with India’s eastern neighbour, would benefit from the two services.
The Kolkata-Dhaka-Agartala service would reduce by 560 kms the distance between West Bengal and the landlocked state of Tripura, which is surrounded by Bangladesh from three sides.
At present, separate bus services between Dhaka-Kolkata and Dhaka-Agartala are operational.
India and Bangladesh are also keen to strengthen railway connectivity, particularly to revive railway links which were in existence prior to 1965.
They are also set to sign a coastal shipping agreement to facilitate sailing of small vessels from India to various ports in Bangladesh which now go through Singapore.
India feels improving connectivity with Bangladesh will help linking the North-eastern region with Southeast Asia.