PMs Modi and Hasina Announce Himalayan-Bay of Bengal connectivity at Summit

PMs Modi and Hasina Announce Himalayan-Bay of Bengal connectivity at Summit

New Delhi - Prime Ministers Narendra Modi of India and Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh announced a comprehensive plan to enhance regional connectivity at a summit on Saturday. This initiative aims to link the Himalayan states of Bhutan and Nepal with Bangladesh, promoting business and investment opportunities in the Bay of Bengal region.

During the summit, the two leaders highlighted the importance of boosting connectivity as a means to foster economic growth and integration in South Asia. The joint vision document agreed upon at the summit outlines several key initiatives:

Transit Facilities: India will extend transit facilities for the movement of Bangladeshi goods to Nepal and Bhutan via the railway network.

Motor Vehicle Agreement: Emphasis was placed on the early operationalization of the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicle Agreement to enhance sub-regional connectivity.

Railway Connectivity: A new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Bangladesh will further boost regional connectivity through enhanced railway links.

Goods Train Service: The leaders welcomed the commencement of goods train services from Gede-Darshana through Chilahati-Haldibari up to Hasimara via Dalgaon railhead, which will be operationalized at the India-Bhutan border.

Electricity Transmission: The summit also focused on boosting electricity transmission from Nepal and Bhutan to Bangladesh via the Indian grid. Plans include the construction of a 765 kV high-capacity interconnection between Katihar-Parbatipur-Bornagar with Indian financial assistance to support regional grid connectivity.

The vision document outlines a transformative partnership aimed at advancing shared interests through multi-faceted connectivity. This includes:

Physical Connectivity:Enhancing multi-modal transport and cross-border trade and transit infrastructure for seamless movement of people, goods, and services.
Energy Connectivity: Expanding power and energy collaboration to develop intra-regional electricity trade, particularly from clean energy projects in India, Nepal, and Bhutan.
Digital Connectivity: Promoting digital connectivity to further integrate the region.

Strategic Integration
Experts on South Asia note that India's plan aims to economically integrate the economies of the BBIN region, along with Sri Lanka, to boost regional integration amid China's expanding presence in South Asia.

“Together, we will pursue a transformative partnership that advances shared interests in promoting multi-faceted connectivity for both our countries as well as the entire region by transforming our geographical proximity into new economic opportunities,” the vision document states.

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