BANGLADESH prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday (1) said the inauguration of three India-assisted development projects in her country has proved that friendly relations between neighbouring countries can accelerate mutual economic development.
“I think it is an instance for the world,” Hasina said after virtually inaugurating jointly with her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi three India-assisted development projects: The Akhaura-Agartala cross-border rail link; Khulna-Mongla port rail line, and Unit II of the Maitree Super Thermal Power Plant in Bangladesh.
“We have proved that good relations with the neighbour accelerate the country’s development,” Hasina said and added that she expected relations with India to grow steadily for the common benefit of the people from the two countries.
“We today jointly inaugurated three projects. It is a demonstration of having rare friendly relations and mutual cooperation. Bangladesh and India will attain many successes in the days to come through mutual cooperation, which will strengthen the relationship between the two countries further in the future,” Hasina said.
The Akhaura-Agartala cross-border rail link project has been executed under the government of India grant assistance of £39 million extended to Bangladesh. The length of the rail link is 12.24 km with a 6.78 km dual gauge rail line in Bangladesh and 5.46 km in Tripura in northeast India.
Hasina said Bangladesh and India have achieved great success due to mutual cooperation in recent times.
She said the mutual efforts have helped ensure peace and stability in the northeast region of India and establish connectivity between many Indian states with its northeast part through Chattogram and Mongla Ports.
In his address, Modi said the inauguration of the India-Bangladesh rail project was a “historic” moment.
“This is the first rail link between the northeast and Bangladesh,” he said. “It is a matter of joy that we have connected once again to celebrate the success of the India-Bangladesh cooperation. In the past nine years, the work we have done together has not happened in decades,” Modi said in an interaction with Hasina over video-conferencing.
Tripura’s chief minister Dr Manik Saha too virtually joined the event.
The Akhaura-Agartala railway link will reduce the 1,100 km distance between Kolkata and Agartala and bring down travel time from 31 hours to 10 hours, an official familiar with the project said.
An empty goods container train started its journey at 12.20pm BST from Gangagar in Akhaura, Brahmanbaria, and successfully completed the 35-minute journey to Nishchintapur rail station in Agartala.
The officials said a trial run of a passenger train on the same route would be conducted soon.
The second railway track, 64 km in length, will connect Bangladesh’s south-western Khulna industrial city with the south-western Mongla seaport providing the much-needed broad-gauge railway network for the sea port.
The 1320-megawatt Maitree Super Thermal Power Project is set to burn 4.75 million tonnes of coal annually, and begins operations weeks ahead of the UN COP28 climate conference in Dubai.
The plant, built in Bangladesh, is close to the UNESCO world heritage site of Sundarbans, one of the world’s largest mangrove forests.
The first half of the $2 billion (£1.7bn) power plant — financed with a $1.6bn (£1.3bn) loan from India — went online last year.