By Sujit Chakraborty
India is a big player in Bangladesh, having already invested $3 billion in many projects and considering the infusion of another $11 billion, a top diplomat has said.
Equally important, India Inc is investing an estimated $11 billion dollars in various ventures in the country,” Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Harsh Vardhan Shringla told IANS.
Prominent among these companies are Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries, the Tata Group, Ashok Leyland, Hero MotoCorp, Airtel, Marico, Godrej, VIP Industries, Ceat Tyres, Ambattur Clothing, Sahara, L&T and the Adani Group.
Shringla was in Tripura as a part of his visit to five Indian states that border Bangladesh. He met Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, Chief Secretary Yashpal Singh and various other officials and dignitaries and discussed India-Bangladesh issues.
The High Commissioner said that a large number of important projects are being implemented jointly in Bangladesh or being executed under India’s Line of Credit funding.
“With the completion of these ongoing and proposed projects, the current India-Bangladesh annual trade volume of $6.5 billion would increase significantly. To boost trade and economy, India has already built two Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) on the India-Bangladesh borders at Agartala and Petrapole (in West Bengal).”
India’s Commerce Ministry constructed the multi-purpose ICPs for Rs 75 crore each to provide better facilities for effective and efficient discharge of functions like security, immigration, customs and quarantine, while also providing support facilities for smooth cross-border movement of people, goods and transport.
“A third ICP would be constructed at Dawki (in Meghalaya) and the official process has begun for this,” the envoy said.
In this context, the envoy noted that a pilot cargo truck from Bangladesh recently travelled more than 1,850 km and reached Delhi in three days, successfully demonstrating the benefits of the Motor Vehicle Agreement inked by Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal.
“India-Bangladesh relations have improved extensively in last five years and are much better than in the last 30 years. We are working towards the re-integration of our economies. We have largest length of 4,096-km borders and this can be useful if its potential is realised. Realising this, both countries are developing their border infrastructure.”
He said that after increasing bus services between the cities of Bangladesh and India, two new rail links — Agartala (India)-Akhaura (Bangladesh) and Kolkata (India)-Khul (Bangladesh) — are being developed.
“Work for constructing a bridge in southern Tripura over the river Feni to connect the northeastern states with the Chittagong sea port and extension of Bangladeshi highways to link the northeastern states would start early next year.” “Bangladesh has already offered India the use of the Chittagong, Mongla and Ashuganj ports. India is also helping develop the Ashuganj port. All these ports would be greatly beneficial for land-locked northeast India.”
The High Commissioner said that India has liberalised its visa procedures to a large extent and the Dhaka mission is issuing, on an average, 3,500 tourist visas per day.
“There are several types of visa being issued and there is no maximum limit on their issuing. This is being done to further reinforce the India-Bangladesh people-to-people contacts,” he added. Five Indian states — West Bengal (2,216 km), Tripura (856 km), Meghalaya (443 km), Mizoram (318 km) and Assam ( 263 km) — share their border with Bangladesh. (IANS)
(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)