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PM opening new bridge to cement India Bangladesh ties

PM opening new bridge to cement India Bangladesh ties

Tripura is set to become the ‘Gateway of North East’ with access to Chittagong Port of Bangladesh, which is just 80 kms from the Sabroom of Tripura. On Tuesday Prime Minister of India Narendra  Modi will  inaugurate the "Maitri Setu" (Friendship Bridge) between India and Bangladesh tomorrow via video conferencing ahead of visit to Dhaka on March 26.

The 1.9km bridge over the transborder Feni river  connects Sabroom in Tripura and Ramgarh in Bangladesh, "the name 'Maitri Setu' symbolises growing bilateral relations and friendly ties between India and Bangladesh. It is poised to herald a new chapter for trade and people to people movement between India and Bangladesh," the PMO said in a statement.

PM Modi will also lay the foundation stone for setting up an Integrated Check Post at Sabroom. It will help ease the movement of goods and passengers between the two countries, provide new market opportunities for products of North-East states and assist the seamless movement of passengers to and from India and Bangladesh media reports.

The bridge will provide direct road connectivity between south Tripura and Chittagong through Sabroom (India) – Ramgarh (Bangladesh) link, and will further promote trade, tourism and people-to-people ties between Tripura and Bangladesh and benefit the entire region.

The Feni river, which forms part of the India-Bangladesh border, originates in the South Tripura district, passes through Sabroom town on the Indian side, and meets the Bay of Bengal after it flows into Bangladesh.

The two countries have 54 rivers in common but the treaty on water sharing was signed only on two rivers, the Ganges in 1996 and the Feni River in 2019.

Dhaka and Delhi have also agreed to share data of water use or withdrawal from six common rivers — Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla and Dudhkumar  as both countries are working on water sharing deals

Bangladesh and India began talks on water sharing of the rivers in August 2019 as the two countries failed to sign the Teesta water-sharing agreement due to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's last-minute opposition in 2011.

Last week after meeting Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,  India’s External Affairs minister S. Jaishankar said,”"Connectivity is productivity."

"If we can get connectivity right between India and Bangladesh, I can tell you the entire geo-economy of the region will change. The Bay of Bengal will look very different.”

Jaishankar stressed on connectivity  rail, road, and waterways.

There are a number of connectivity projects under Indian Line of Credit. Five rail lines out of the total eight that were suspended since 1965 are already operational.

Under MoUs signed between the two countries, India can use Chattogram and Mongla ports to transport goods to its northeastern states. It will allow the landlocked Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura states to access open sea trade routes. India is constructing the roads and rail lines to Sabroom as part of its massive development work in the northeast.

PM Modi will be visiting Bangladesh on March 26, in  what will be his first foreign trip since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. The visit to Dhaka has huge significance as it will help consolidate a burgeoning partnership with Bangladesh which in many ways is India’s most important neighbour and a gateway to Southeast Asia.