India is proud to be the biggest development partner of Bangladesh: PM

Hasina, Modi launch three projects, including restarting the landmark Akhaura-Agartala rail link

November 01, 2023 12:28 pm | Updated 10:33 pm IST - New Delhi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina attend the inauguration of three Indian-assisted development projects via a video conference, on November 1, 2023

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina attend the inauguration of three Indian-assisted development projects via a video conference, on November 1, 2023 | Photo Credit: PTI

India is proud to be the “biggest development partner” of Bangladesh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday.

Speaking on the occasion of the joint virtual launch of three projects, including the historic restarting of the rail connection between Bangladesh and Tripura in the Northeast, Mr. Modi appreciated Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for boosting the development journey of Bangladesh and reiterated India’s commitment to the ideals of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founder of Bangladesh.

“I especially want to thank Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for making our joint efforts successful. Some weeks ago, you participated in the G-20 summit and I had the opportunity to welcome you at the event. India will continue to support your idea of ‘Smart Bangladesh’. I am confident that our joint efforts will create the Golden Bengal (Sonar Bangladesh),” Mr. Modi said.

The two leaders revisited the India-Bangladesh development trajectory over the past decade during which both of them interacted on multiple occasions and started a number of initiatives.

In this context, Mr. Modi made a special mention of the signing of the Land Boundary Agreement in June 2015 which had been unresolved for nearly four decades. He also counted demarcation of the maritime boundary and bus services between prominent cities of the two countries as achievements of the past decade.

The leaders jointly inaugurated the Akhaura-Agartala rail link that will re-establish the rail connectivity between Bangladesh and Northeast India through Tripura. “It is the first rail link between Bangladesh and the northeastern States. Tripura has deep relation with Bangladesh since the time of liberation struggle. Through this link, States of northeast India can also be connected to the ports of Bangladesh,” Mr. Modi said.

The other projects inaugurated were the Khulna-Mongla Port Rail Line and the Unit II of Maitree Super Thermal Power Project.

The Khulna-Mongla rail link will cover 65 km of broad-gauge rail route between Mongla, the second largest port of Bangladesh, and the existing rail network within Khulna. This will ultimately contribute to greater maritime access to eastern India as well.

The strong remarks of support from Mr. Modi for Ms. Hasina has come just weeks ahead of the expected announcement of the general election in Bangladesh, where the Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party has been agitating for the formation of a caretaker government. Ms. Hasina has rejected that demand, which prompted the BNP to hit the streets of capital Dhaka on October 28, when the city witnessed considerable disruption. After that, the BNP-Jamaat combine called for a transport blockade which caused some uncertainty among the masses.

Ms. Hasina, who joined Wednesday’s virtual event from her official residence, Ganabhaban, in Dhaka, said the projects would help in ushering in an era of prosperity in Bangladesh. She highlighted the Akhaura-Agartala rail link and said the long-awaited project will energise connectivity and commerce in northeast India as well as Bangladesh.

“Bangladesh attaches the highest importance in boosting the relation with India. We have achieved success in bilateral cooperation in various areas in recent years. I am optimistic that many more such examples of success will be set as the reflection of our bilateral cooperation in the coming days,” Ms. Hasina said.

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