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India, Bangladesh PMs to unveil 3 projects to boost connectivity, energy security

Oct 31, 2023 08:25 PM IST

The three projects to be inaugurated are the Akhaura-Agartala cross-border rail link, the Khulna-Mongla port rail line, and unit II of the Maitree super thermal power plant

New Delhi: Three development projects implemented in Bangladesh with Indian assistance to boost connectivity and energy security in the region will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina. (HT)

Bangladesh has a central place in India’s “Neighbourhood First” policy and has benefited from numerous development projects implemented with Indian aid, including grants, in recent years. Many of these projects, including the revival of cross-border rail links that had been closed since the 1965 war with Pakistan, are aimed at bolstering connectivity between Bangladesh and India’s strategic northeastern region.

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The three projects to be inaugurated during a virtual ceremony on November 1 are the Akhaura-Agartala cross-border rail link, the Khulna-Mongla port rail line, and unit II of the Maitree super thermal power plant, an official statement said.

The Akhaura-Agartala rail link project has been implemented with an Indian grant of 392.52 extended to Bangladesh. The length of the link is 12.24 km, including a dual gauge rail line of 6.78 km in Bangladesh and 5.46 km in the northeastern state of Tripura.

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The Khulna-Mongla port rail line project, with a total cost of $388.92 million, was built with a concessional line of credit extended by the Indian government. The project included the construction of a broad gauge rail link of about 65 km between Mongla port and the existing rail network in Khulna region of Bangladesh.

With this, Mongla, the second largest port of Bangladesh, has been connected to the country’s broad-gauge railway network.

The Bangladesh government recently allowed the transit and trans-shipment of cargo from West Bengal to the northeastern states via Chattogram and Mongla ports. The move has significantly cut the time and cost of transporting goods to the landlocked northeastern states.

The Maitree super thermal power project, being built under an Indian concessional financing scheme loan of $1.6 billion, is a 1,320 MW plant located at Rampal in Khulna division of Bangladesh. The project has been implemented by the Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company Private Limited, which is a 50-50 joint venture between India’s NTPCL and the Bangladesh Power Development Board.

Unit I of the power plant was jointly unveiled by both prime ministers in September 2022. The full operationalisation of the power plant will enhance energy security in Bangladesh.

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