PM opnes Maitri Setu between Tripura-B’desh, hails new trade corridor (Ld)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday that the eastern and northeastern regions of India along with Bangladesh are being developed as a trade corridor.

Addressing a virtual gathering from Delhi via video-conferencing, Modi said the infrastructure for developing roads, railways, airways and waterways has been developed and new projects are being launched to develop the eastern and northeastern regions of India along with Bangladesh as a trade corridor.

“With the development of the varied infrastructure, economic opportunities would increase to a large extent, not only in eastern and northeastern regions of India, but also in Bangladesh,” Modi said after inaugurating five development projects and laying the foundation stones for four projects with a total investment of Rs 3,518 crore.

Of the nine projects, a 1.9 km long bridge built at a cost of Rs 133 crore over river Feni is the most significant venture to link India and Bangladesh by road and to access the Chittagong international sea port in Bangladesh from the northeastern states of India.

Modi said the connectivity-related infrastructure has seen tremendous improvement in the last three years. Referring to the development of HIRA (Highways, I-ways, Railways and Airways), the Prime Minister cited the rapid work for the airport and sea-link in Tripura.

Speaking about Tripura, Modi said that now people would not have to depend only on roads for any kind of supply to northeast India.

“Efforts are underway to connect Chittagong port of Bangladesh with the northeast through an alternative route via the river. The ICP (Integrated Check Post) in Sabroom would work like a full-fledged logistic hub with warehouses and container trans-shipment facilities,” he said.

Modi said the connectivity is not only strengthening the friendship between India and Bangladesh, but also proving to be a strong link for business.

“The Feni bridge would improve the connectivity to south Assam, Mizoram, Manipur and Tripura with Bangladesh and south-east Asia, Modi said, adding that the bridge would give an impetus to the economic opportunities in Bangladesh as well.

The Prime Minister thanked the Bangladesh government and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for the cooperation in the completion of the bridge project. Sheikh Hasina also virtually addressed the function organised to inaugurate the double-lane Feni bridge named Maitri Setu (friendship bridge).

Modi said that he, along with the Bangladesh Prime Minister, had jointly laid the foundation stone for the Feni river bridge a few years ago and today (Tuesday) they jointly opened the bridge for movement of traffic.

Hasina, while addressing the function virtually from Dhaka, said the Bangladesh government has already announced allowing the northeastern states of India to get access not only to the Chittagong and Mongla sea ports, but also the Chittagong airport.

The Bangladesh Prime Minister said, “Bangladesh had extended the necessary support to construct the Maitri Setu. With the use of the Chittagong and Mongla sea ports, the distance between Tripura and Kolkata ports would be reduced to less than 100 km from the existing 1,600 km.”

The Feni bridge has connected India’s the border town of Sabroom in Tripura with Ramgarh in Bangladesh. Sabroom is 72 km by road from the Chittagong sea port.

“We want to remove the political boundary. Political boundaries should not become physical barriers for trade. There should not be any political and economic barriers between us. Cross-border transport system would boost the socio-economic condition of north-eastern states of India. Together we are keen to develop our region as a prosperous one. Trade and commerce must be improved and extended to a large extent,” Hasina said.

The Bangladesh Prime Minister said her country is keen to develop connectivity with Nepal and Bhutan, too. She said Bangladesh had not forgotten Tripura’s contribution, help and support during the 1971 Liberation War.

“India has helped a lot during the Bangladesh Liberation War,” Hasina said, referring to the observation of the 50 years of the Liberation war, also called as “Mukti Yuddha”.

Prime Minister Modi on Tuesday inaugurated and laid the foundation stones of nine mega projects worth Rs 3,518 crore. Besides, the Feni bridge, he inaugurated the Integrated Command and Control Centre in Agartala (Rs 135 crore), 48 km portions of National Highway-8 between Agartala and Udaipur (Rs 765 crore), 4,000 urban houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (Urban) (Rs 813 crore) and Public Works Department (PWD) roads (Rs 63 crore).

Modi also laid the foundation stone for four projects — Integrated Check Posts in southern Tripura’s border town Sabroom (worth Rs 232 crore), Kailashahar-Khowai National Highway-208 (worth Rs 1,078 crore), Multilevel car parking-cum-commercial complex (worth Rs 200 crore) and upgradation and widening of existing airport road from two lanes to four lanes (worth Rs 96 crore).

Tripura Governor Ramesh Bais and Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, among others also spoke at the gathering. The Tuesday’s rally and the function were organised to mark the completion of three years of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) government in the state.