India signs motor vehicle pact with three nations

It will ensure increased connectivity to Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

June 16, 2015 02:41 am | Updated 02:41 am IST - NEW DELHI:

India on Monday signed a motor vehicles agreement with three SAARC nations — Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal — that envisages seamless transit of passenger and cargo vehicles among these countries.

Though a seamless cargo movement between the South Asian neighbours is expected to take much longer, Monday’s agreement at Bhutan’s capital Thimphu is expected to remove bottlenecks by allowing people easy access.

The agreement signed on India’s behalf by Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari will not only reduce transport costs, but also enhance multi-modal transport and transit facilities, enabling increased connectivity and promotion of greater trade among the four countries.

“The Motor Vehicles Agreement is the ‘overarching’ framework to fulfil our commitment to enhance regional connectivity. This will need to be followed through with formulation of the required protocols and procedures in the shortest time possible to realise the ultimate objective of free movement of people and goods in the region,” Mr. Gadkari said.

As per the agreement, the four countries will carry out a six-month work plan from July for the implementation of the BBIN MVA in accordance with the preparation of bilateral, perhaps trilateral or quadrilateral, agreements and protocols, installation of the prerequisites for implementing the approved agreements, among others.

A similar motor agreement with Myanmar and Thailand is on the cards.

Haroon Habib reports from Dhaka:

Bangladesh Minister for Road Transport and Bridges Obaidul Quader said there would be a trial run of vehicles on all the possible routes in October.

Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay will flag off a vehicle that will run through Bhutan-Guwahati-Shillong-Sylhet-Benapole-Kolkata route to survey the road.

The other possible routes are: Thimphu- Phuentsholing-Jaigaon-Burimari-Mongla/Chittagong, Kathmandu-Kakarvita/Phulbari-Banglabandha-Mongla/Chittagong, Samdrup Jonhkar (Bhutan)-Guwahati-Shillong-Tamabil-Sylhet-Chittagong, Silchar-Sutarkandi-Paturia Ferryghat-Benapole/Petrapole-Kolkata, Silchar-Saturkandi-Chittagong Port and Agartola-Akhaura-Chittagong Port.

Take-off on small scale

Bangladesh Finance Minister A.M.A. Muhith said the infrastructure of the route would be improved in a year. He said the transit would start in a very limited scale in the beginning.

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