The Agartala-Kolkata bus service, via Bangladesh, could not be resumed as Dhaka yet to endorse India’s proposal in this regard, a senior Tripura government official said on Tuesday.
Tripura’s Principal Secretary, Transport, Laihlia Darlong said that the Bangladesh government is yet to give the green signal to run the bus service between Agartala-Kolkata via its territory.
“We are pursuing the matter through the Agartala-based Assistant High Commission to get the approval of the Bangladesh government and to resume the service at the earliest,” Darlong told IANS.
He said that earlier this month the External Affairs Ministry has given a no-objection to Tripura, Assam, and Meghalaya governments to resume bus services with Bangladesh. The Agartala-Kolkata bus service via Bangladesh was suspended in March 2020 after the outbreak of Covid-19 cases and restrictions imposed on cross-border movement.
According to a bilateral agreement, the government-owned Tripura Road Transport Corporation and the Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation had started several bus services between Agartala, Shillong, Guwahati, Dhaka, and Kolkata but these were suspended due to various reasons, including the Covid-19 outbreak.
A large number of people of the northeastern states and West Bengal prefer bus rides via Bangladesh not only because of the shorter distance (around 500 km between Agartala-Kolkata) and very affordable fares, but for the exciting landscape of Bangladesh plains, emotional attachment with that country and crossing the mighty river Padma on a ferry.
The bus services also promote the tourism of the two counties. In view of the railway lines cut-off in Assam from May 14, the bus service became very important for the people of Tripura, Mizoram and southern Assam to go to Kolkata and other parts of India.
Due to the railway line disruptions, the fares of different flights operated between Mizoram, Tripura, and southern Assam increased by three to four times, severely affecting the people bound for Kolkata, Delhi and other cities in India by air.
Due to unprecedented landslides triggered by heavy rain, massive damage has been caused to stations and railway tracks at over 58 locations in Northeast Frontier Railway’s Lumding-Badarpur single line railway route via Dima Hasao mountainous district. This single track railway line connects Tripura, Mizoram, Manipur and the southern parts of Assam with the rest of the country.
According to NFR’s Chief Public Relations Officer, Sabyasachi De, in the hill section under Lumding Division, all trains have been cancelled till June.
The official said that railway engineers and workers are working on a war footing to restore the rail links. The NFR’s Lumding-Badarpur single line railway route via Dima Hasao is vital for ferrying goods, fuel, and passengers to and from Tripura, Mizoram, Manipur and southern Assam’s three districts – Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakhandhi.
(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at email@example.com)