India started work on building a bridge over the Feni river in Tripura to ferry heavy machines and goods to and from the northeastern states and the rest of India via Bangladesh through the Chittagong international port, top official said here on Saturday.
The Bangladesh government has earlier agreed to allow India to use the Chittagong port, about 72 km from Tripura’s southern border town of Sabroom.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Premier Sheikh Hasina jointly laid the foundation stone of the bridge during the former’s two-day visit to Dhaka on June 6-7, 2015.
“India has completed preliminary work including making detailed project report to build the bridge in Tripura to access Chittagong port to carry goods and heavy machineries for the northeast region,” Tripura’s public works department (PWD), national highway wing chief engineer Dipak Ranjan Das told reporters.
“The DPR after some modification would be resubmitted to the Road Transport and Highways Ministry (MoRTH) next week for release of funds,” Das said.
The official said New Delhi would build the double-lane bridge and approach roads both in Bangladesh and India at its own cost and gave responsibility to Tripura PWD to construct the bridge and related approach roads.
Das said that after the finalisation of the tender, two and a half years time would be required to build the 150-metre-long bridge and other necessary facilities.
“A joint team of senior officials of India and Bangladesh recently visited Sabroom (in India) and Ramgarh (in Bangladesh) to initiate construction work and finalise other ground works,” Tripura PWD minister Badal Choudhury said.
“The proposed bridge, to be built at a cost of Rs 94 crore, would be the trading lifeline not only for northeast India but also neighbouring South Asian countries,” Choudhury said.
During Modi’s visit last year, both the countries had signed an agreement promising that Bangladesh would allow use of Chittagong sea port and Mongla river port for the movement of goods to and from India.
Chaudhury said, “If Dhaka provides transit facilities to India and if we can use the Chittagong international port and other ports in Bangladesh, commodities and machinery can be transported to the northeast from various parts of India and abroad, saving huge time and money.”
“The transit between northeast India and rest of the country and abroad via Bangladesh is likely to become a reality in near future,” he said.