Wagah replica for Agartala-Akhaura border with Bangladesh

Agartala, April 16 (IANS) India’s tourism ministry has sanctioned a Rs.18 crore project for the Tripura government to create a variety of infrastructure along the India-Bangladesh border similar to that at the Attari-Wagah border with Pakistan, a state minister said.

“Wagah-like infrastructure, including a mini-stadium, would be created at the Agartala (India)-Akhaura (Bangladesh) border to organise a Beating Retreat ceremony like that at the Wagah border with Pakistan,” Tripura’s Tourism Minister Ratan Bhowmik told IANS.

He said the union tourism ministry recently sanctioned Rs.18 crore and 20 percent of the sanctioned funds have already been released for the Agartala-Akhaura project.

“Under the tourism ministry’s ‘Swadesh Darshan’ scheme, the Centre sanctioned Rs.99 crore for Tripura to implement several tourism projects in the state. The Rs.99 crore ambitious project includes building of a mini-stadium, open theatre, cafeteria and other infrastructure at the Agartala-Akhaura border at a cost of Rs.18 crore.”

The Tripura government’s Public Works Department (PWD) would execute the project.

The Agartala-Akhaura check post is the second largest trading point between India and Bangladesh after the Benapole-Petrapole post with West Bengal.

The Beating Retreat ceremony, which marks the closing of the Attari-Wagah border near Amritsar every evening, is a military routine that the India-Pakistan border guards — the Border Security Force (BSF) and Pakistan Rangers — have jointly conducted since 1959.

People travel specially to the border to witness the ceremony in which the flags of the two countries are lowered by security personnel with a number of aggressive gestures and a mutually coordinated performance.

“To build a Wagah-like infrastructure at the Agartala-Akhaura border, official level meetings between Bangladesh and India were held and the Bangladesh government has no objection to the project,” Bhowmik said.

“However, the Bangladesh government has not yet taken any decision to make similar infrastructure on their side at Akhaura.”

“The Agartala-Akhaura border is not only a big trading point between India and Bangladesh, it is also an important tourist spot. After creation of the proposed infrastructure, the tourist attraction would increase to a large extent,” he added.

The jurisdiction of the 145-year-old Agartala Municipal Corporation, northeast India’s oldest municipal body, extends up to the Agartala-Akhaura check post.

A few years back, India’s commerce ministry constructed a multi-purpose Integrated Check Post (ICP) at the border.

This ICP boasts of modern infrastructure to facilitate better trade, immigration and cross border movement of people from both sides. India plans to open 13 ICPs along the borders with Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar.

The minister also said that under the Rs.99 crore budget, a musical fountain at Ujjayanta Palace, introduction of battery-operated cars at Sipahijala wild life zoo and sanctuary in western Tripura and development of the Dambur lake in southern Tripura would be undertaken.

Northeast India’s biggest museum was set up at the historic Ujjayanta Palace, the former royal palace of Tripura’s Manikya kings, which served as the state legislative assembly until 2011.

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