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Modi and Hasina inaugurate new transport nodes, set template for prosperity in Bay of Bengal region

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina at the Hyderabad House in New Delhi (Image courtesy: PIB)

In another major development cementing India-Bangladesh ties Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina jointly inaugurated three projects which include the 65-km Khulna-Mongla Port Rail Line and Unit 2 of the Maitree Super Thermal Power Plant in Rampal. Besides this, a rail link connecting Tripura’s Nischintapur and Gangasagar in Bangladesh was also inaugurated by the two leaders.

The Khulna-Mongla Port Rail link will not only spur Bangladesh’s economy, it will help in boosting connectivity and trade with India and other neighbouring states including the landlocked Nepal and Bhutan. Dhaka plans to use the rail link as an international route at a later stage.

The project, executed under the Indian LoC (Line of Credit), will significantly reduce logistics hurdles and costs or transshipment of goods including heavy cargo between Kolkata and the northeast states.

“The rail line will boost the entire BBIN (Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal) sub-region as it would unchoke the supply chain. This is an achievement as finally we see connectivity in the region being strengthened,” a researcher said.

Despite being closely linked, South Asia as a region is one of the least connected. “In South Asia, transport and trade challenges mean that it is about 15-20 per cent less expensive for an Indian company to trade with a counterpart in Brazil or Germany than in Bangladesh.  Improved connectivity can reduce trading costs, lead to greater economic growth, and reduce poverty in South Asia,” Cecile Fruman, Director, Regional Integration and Engagement, South Asia earlier told India Narrative.

Also read: How India-backed rail line to Bangladesh’s Mongla Port will lift trade in Bay of Bengal region