Bangladesh-India rail link on fast track after PM intervention

  • Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jul 18, 2015 23:27 IST

After opening a direct bus route between Tripura and Bangladesh, the Centre has stepped in to lay a direct rail link between the land-locked state and Dhaka. Top sources told HT that Prime Minister Narendra Modi stepped in to remove bottlenecks in the project.

The government will build a 15-km-long broad gauge rail line from Agartala to Akhaura, a city in south-east Bangladesh, which will give India’s northeastern states a key link to Chittagong ports and large markets in Sylhet and Dhaka.

The plan had almost come to a standstill after the Tripura government expressed its inability to pump state funds for the project. But after meetings between Modi and chief minister Manik Sarkar, the Indian Railways have decided to bear the cost.

“After its preliminary survey, the railways had told us to bear `350 crore for land acquisition. We put our foot down. Now the railways have made a revised plan, whereby the entire rail line would be constructed on pillars—like the Delhi metro—above ground. The requirement of land and its cost will now be significantly low,” Sarkar told HT.

Currently, Bangladesh’s lone rail link with India passes through Kolkata. The British-era rail corridor between Agartala and Dhaka was snapped after Partition in 1947.

Sarkar is also hopeful for an early resumption of train services. “This Bangladesh government has never objected to any development plan that involves Tripura. Sheikh Hasina has a soft corner for Tripura,” said Sarkar.

Apart from attending the meeting of North-East CMs with Modi in New Delhi on Wednesday, Sarkar has so far held two exclusive meetings with the prime minister. Putting aside their political and ideological differences, the four-time CM maintains a cordial working relation with him.

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