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Cabinet approves MoU on setting up Indo-Bangla border haats

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New Delhi: In order to set up ‘border haats’ or ‘local markets’ on the confines of India-Bangladesh, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Bangladesh was approved by the union cabinet on Wednesday, an official statement said.

The small business centres aim at establishing a traditional system of marketing local produce through local markets in local currency or barter basis, thereby promoting the well-being of the people dwelling in remote areas across the boundary of the two countries.

Though not significant as a percentage of bilateral trade, these measures help to improve the economic well-being of marginalised sections of society.

An agreement was reached in 2010 to establish Border Haats at selected areas, including the Meghalaya border, to allow trade in specified products and in accordance with the regulations agreed and notified by both the governments.

To implement the same, a MoU and the mode of operation of the markets was signed on October 23, 2010. Subsequently, an addendum to the mode of operation was signed on May 15, 2012.

Border Haats are already operational at Kalaichar and Balat (Meghalaya-Bangladesh border), and Kamlasagar and Srinagar (Tripura-Bangladesh border).

In addition, both the governments agreed to further establish two Border Haats in Tripura and four Border Haats in Meghalaya on the India-Bangladesh border.

As per the MoU, new areas will also be identified for setting up of similar trade points. (Picture Courtesy:thequint.com)(IANS)

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India, Bangladesh have set example of building relationship: PM Modi

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New Delhi, March 24: India and Bangladesh have set an example of how neighbouring countries can build a relationship with each other, said PM Narendra Modi on Wednesday.

“There was a time when Bangladesh was afflicted with pain and suffering,” Prime Minister Modi said while jointly inaugurating a power transmission line and an internet connectivity project between the two south Asian nations via video-conference with Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

“Today Bangladesh is progressing to achieve greater heights. We are setting an example for the world how to build relationship with neighbours,” he said.

The new power transmission line will link Surjyamaninagar in Tripura with South Comilla in Bangladesh.

India will export 100 MW of electricity through this line.

The leasing of internet bandwidth from Akhaura in Bangladesh to Agartala, apart from helping the people of Tripura to avail more reliable internet connectivity, will also improve internet speed in the entire northeastern region.

India’s BSNL has leased 10 GBPS bandwidth of Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited from its Cox’s Bazar internet port.

Prime Minister Modi said the power transmission to Bangladesh has provided yet another opportunity for the development of the south Asian nation.

Regarding the internet connectivity, he said this was an era of communication and it was an opportunity to strengthen the power of communication.

“Opening of the eastern gateway of digital world with Bangladesh in itself is a great opportunity of creating awareness for the youth, especially in the northeastern states of the country,” the prime minister said.

He highlighted the multiple channels of increased connectivity between the two countries in recent times, including road connectivity and digital connectivity.

Prime Minister Modi offered all support to Bangladesh for the launch of the Bangabandhu satellite. (IANS)

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Bangladesh to set up 40 border outposts along India-Bangladesh border

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Agartala: Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) have agreed to construct at least 40 new border outposts (BOPs) facing Tripura and Mizoram along the India-Bangladesh border to check militant activities and trafficking, a BSF official said on Monday.

“BGB officials informed us on the proposed construction of least 40 new BOPs along the India-Bangladesh frontier facing Tripura and Mizoram,” Border Security Force’s (BSF) Tripura Frontier Inspector General Bhola Nath Sharma told IANS.

The proposed BOPs in the mountainous Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) will help in containing terrorism in the northeastern states since most camps of Indian insurgent groups, including Tripura militant outfits, are located in southeast Bangladesh’s CHT, he pointed out.

During a meeting of BSF and BGB officials in Meghalaya capital Shillong on June 8-11, apart from strategies to further reinforce security along the border, other cross-border problems too were discussed.

Sharma, also present in the Shillong meeting, said: “Since roads along the hilly Bangladeshi frontiers are absent or in poor shape, BGB officials sought permission to use Indian roads for setting up these new BOPs in the CHT. BSF officials assured the BGB of full cooperation.”

The BSF official said that during the meeting, increasing border security was stressed on to curb cross-border crimes and movement of terrorists belonging to northeast groups.

“Both sides agreed to increase vigil along the border areas to foil attempt by militants and other anti-national elements to disrupt internal peace. Besides, emphasis was also given to curb trans-border smuggling,” the BSF officer said.

Meanwhile, district magistrates of Tripura’s four border districts and deputy commissioners of four Bangladesh border districts are likely to meet in Chittagong in Bangladesh on June 24.

The officials would discuss and finalize strategies to deal with border crimes, border fencing and better border management, besides issues relating to terrorism.

“District magistrates and superintendents of police of south Tripura, Gomati, Sepahijala and Dhalai districts along with BSF officials will meet their Bangladeshi counterparts in the one-day meet,” a Tripura home department official told IANS.

He said that to iron out minor border-related problems, the officials from both India and Bangladesh have resumed meetings since 2014 after a gap of many years.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Premier Sheikh Hasina discussed the border issues, including curbing of border crimes and terror activities, during the former’s visit to Dhaka on June 6-7.

Four Indian northeastern states of Tripura 856 km), Meghalaya (443 km), Mizoram (318 km) and Assam (263 km) share an 1,880-km border with Bangladesh.

The mountainous terrain, dense forests and other hindrances make the borders porous and vulnerable, enabling illegal immigrants and intruders cross over without any hurdles. (IANS)

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India-Bangladesh railway project to be ready by December 2017

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Agartala: NITI Aayog has decided to commission the proposed 15-km India-Bangladesh railway project along Tripura by 2017, a top state official said on Friday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Premier Sheikh Hasina discussed about the Rs.575-crore ($90 million) railway project, during the former’s visit to Dhaka on June 6-7.

It was finalised in January 2010 during Hasina’s meeting with the then Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi.

“NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog on Thursday decided in a meeting in Delhi to put in place the vital railway project between India and Bangladesh by December 2017,” Tripura transport secretary Samarjit Bhowmik told IANS.

Bhowmik, who returned here on Friday after attending the NITI Aayog meeting, said: “The alignment and other technicalities of laying the track to link Agartala railway station with Bangladesh’s Akhaura railway station would be changed. A final report on the new alignment will be submitted to the centre by June 30 for sanction of funds.”

NITI Aayog’s advisor Animesh Singh presided over the Delhi meeting, where officials of Ministries of Railway, Development of Northeastern Region (DoNER) and External Affairs and the Tripura government participated.

The NITI Aayog meeting was held to remove the roadblocks on the Agartala-Akhaura rail project along Tripura capital Agartala. Of the 15 km, 5 km fall in the Indian territory and the remaining in Bangladesh.

“On the Indian side, some portion of the track is likely to be elevated,” the official said.

“The central government is yet to provide funds, resulting in delay in land acquisition and subsequent works,” a top state government official, who did not wish to be named, told IANS.

He said the state government recently approached the Railway Ministry again to allocate funds. “No funds were allocated in the railway budget for 2015-16, even for land acquisition,” the official said.

The project cost was earlier estimated at Rs.271 crore. In addition, Rs.302 crore was needed to acquire around 91 acres of land in India for laying the track.

Bhowmik said that India’s External Affairs Ministry would provide funds to lay track in the 10-km Bangladesh territory.

“Earlier DoNER ministry had committed to provide funds to lay tracks on the Indian side. But in Thursday’s NITI Aayog meeting, the DoNER ministry categorically expressed its inability to give funds. Railway ministry is now likely to provide funds for the Tripura part of the project,” the official added.

State-owned Indian Railway Construction Company (IRCON) is expected to lay the tracks on both sides of the border. The Northeast Frontier Railway is the nodal agency for the project, for which alignment of rail line and other technical details were earlier finalised by officials of both India and Bangladesh.

Tripura Transport Minister Manik Dey said: “The new railway connectivity between the northeastern state and Bangladesh will boost socio-economic, trade and business ties between the two countries. After the commissioning of the railway project, Tripura would act as a corridor to the southeast Asian countries.”

Dey told IANS: “It would become cost-effective to ferry men and material between the two countries and between mountainous northeast region and other parts of India via Bangladesh once the railway project is completed.”

The 1,650-km distance between Agartala and Kolkata would be reduced to only 515 km once the rail track is constructed through Bangladesh. (IANS)