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Govt to strengthen rail link with India to boost trade, tourism

Published : 11 Feb 2022 10:56 PM | Updated : 12 Feb 2022 01:20 PM

The government plans to introduce different development projects to improve rail link with India focusing on enhancing bilateral import-export and other trade activities.

The projects are designed to develop trade and tourism with India by strengthening inter-regional connectivity between the northeastern part of India, Nepal and Bhutan through Mongla port in Bangladesh.

As part of its move, a project titled, “Construction of Broad Gauge Railway between Chilahati and Chilahati Border with a view to establishing rail link with India” has been sent to the Planning Commission for the first reviews.

The cost and duration of the project are increasing for adding further works.

The duration of the project has been extended, the originally approved period was from August 2018 to January 2021.

Later, for the first time, the term was extended for one year till 2022 without any increase in expenditure. Now it has been proposed to extend the term for one and a half years till June 2023. The original approved cost of the project was Tk 80.16 crore. The project cost now stands at Tk 140.68 crore, up Tk 60.51 crore after the first amendment.

Mamun-al-Rashid, a member of the Physical Infrastructure Division of the Planning Commission, who is in charge of the project, said that under the project, 6,724 km of broad gauge mainline and 3.99 km of broad gauge loop-line will be constructed between Chilahati and Chilahati border. Therefore, trade and commerce will expand through the establishment of sub-regional rail links.

“In addition, import-export and other trade activities will be intensified between the northeastern part of India, Nepal and Bhutan through Mongla Port in Bangladesh,” he said, adding that the proposed first amendment to the project is therefore acceptable.

A planning commission official said that the PEC (Project Evaluation Committee) meeting was held on June 6 last year after receiving a proposal from the Ministry of Railways.

“The project has been recommended to be presented at the meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) as it complied with the recommendations given at the meeting,” he added.

“If approved, Bangladesh Railway will implement it by June 2023,” he mentioned.

The works that are being added to the project are, increasing the length of a new loop line and four-loop lines, a double line broad gauge railway bridge and increasing the length, width and height of the existing platform.

In addition to the construction of new island platforms, platform sheds, foot over bridges, wash pit platforms and wash pit lines under Package WD-2, construction of border gates, one-story, functional buildings and electrical works to enhance station building and station yard lighting.

The project proposal states that the present government has been working tirelessly for the development of trade and tourism sector by strengthening inter-regional connectivity.

Railway connections have been established at 4 out of 6 interchange points between Bangladesh and India.

The decision to build the railway line between Chilahati and Haldibari was taken at the India Bangladesh Intergovernmental Railway meeting held in New Delhi, India from 25 May 2015 to 27 May 2015.

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