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India-Bangladesh Relationship (Part-2)

In the previous article, we discussed trade and economic relations. Now we shall discuss the transportation and energy relationship between the two nations.

India-Bangladesh Relationship

Transport and Energy relationship 

Energy links and connectivity have been a key focus for both countries in recent years. Both countries are looking to deepen the relationship with multi-faceted connectivity because connectivity ensures increased productivity and socio-economic benefits. Connectivity includes a multi-modal approach including highways, waterways, railways, and airways. Some of the key projects that were recently inaugurated or are under implementation are:

  • In November 2023, both countries inaugurated the Akhaura-Agartala rail link. The MoU to develop the said rail link was signed in 2013 with grant assistance from India. This link will bring North East states of India closer to the Chittagong port of Bangladesh. Also, with the opening of this section, India can run trains from Kolkata to Agartala via Bangladesh which will reduce the time from currently 38 hours to 12 hours. Currently, 3 trains viz the Bandhan Express, the Maitree Express, and the Mitali Express, run between West Bengal and Bangladesh.

  • The two countries also inaugurated the Khulna-Mongla Port rail line project, implemented under Indian concessional credit with a total project cost of $388.92 million, a true demonstration of its neighborhood-first policy. With this, Mongla port which is the second largest port of Bangladesh, gets connected with the existing broad-gauge railway network at Khulna. This will also help India as well to access Mongla port for trade.

  • In August 2023, India and Bangladesh signed an agreement, allowing Indian traders to use Chittagong and Mongla ports in Bangladesh for the transportation of goods to northeastern Indian states. The four routes that have been identified for the same are (a) Chittagong Port-Akhaura-Agartala, (b) Mongla Port-Akhaura-Agartala, (c) Chittagong- Bibirbazar - Srimantapur, and (d) Mongla Port-Bibirbazar - Srimantapur. So these routes highlight the importance of the recently inaugurated Akhaura - Agartala rail link and Khulna Mongla rail link

  • Both countries are also developing Matabari deep sea port off the coast of the Bay of Bengal in collaboration with Japan. This is part of the “Bay of Bengal Northeast Industrial Value Chain Concept", which aims to attract global manufacturing to India’s Northeast and Bangladesh by relying on improved connectivity.

  • Another focus is to improve cross-border power and energy trade. In November 2023, both countries inaugurated the Maitree super thermal power of 1320 MW. This joint venture is between the Bangladesh Power Development Board and India’s NTPC. 

  • Earlier in March 2023, both countries also inaugurated the India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline. This is a first-of-its-kind cross-border energy pipeline between India and Bangladesh, built for INR 377 crore, under grant assistance by the Government of India. The India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline will transport one Million Metric Tonnes Per Annum (MMTPA) of High-Speed Diesel to Bangladesh in a sustainable, reliable, and cost-effective manner with a minimal carbon footprint.

India-Bangladesh Border Peace

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