New Delhi: In all 10 Broad Gauge (BG) locomotives were virtually flagged off to Bangladesh by the External Affairs Minister, Dr. S. Jaishankar and the Minister of Railways and Commerce & Industry, Piyush Goyal on Monday. The handing over ceremony held was also attended by the Minister of State for Railways, Suresh C. Angadi. Bangladesh’s Minister of Railway, Md. Nurul Islam Sujan and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Abul Kalam Abdul Momen received the locomotives on behalf of the Government of Bangladesh.
The handing over of these locomotives, under grant assistance from the Government of India, was part of the commitment made during the visit of Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina to India, in October, 2019.
“In keeping with the requirements of Bangladesh Railway, the locomotives have been suitably modified by the Indian side. These locomotives will help handle the increasing volume of passenger and freight train operations in Bangladesh,” the Ministry of Railways stated here on Monday.
Speaking on the occasion, External Affairs Minister Dr. Jaishankar said, “I am delighted to join this ceremony of handing over 10 locomotive to Bangladesh. I am glad to know that Parcel and container trains have been started between both the countries. This will open up new opportunities for our businesses. I am happy to note that movement of trade by rail have been ensured. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the supply of essentials particularly in the holy month of Ramadan were ensured.” He further highlighted the depth of time tested India-Bangladesh ties, based on mutual trust and respect. He expressed his happiness that the COVID pandemic had not slowed down the pace of bilateral cooperation and conveyed that he looked forward to more such milestones in the ongoing historic Mujib Barsho.
Railways minister Goyal said, these locomotives would be useful in handling the ongoing freight train operations between India and Bangladesh. “The leadership of both, India and Bangladesh, are committed to reviving the pre-1965 railway connection between the two countries,” he said and added that out of the 7 rail links that existed then, 4 were functional now.
Goyal informed that to further strengthen rail connectivity in the region, one new rail link, between Agartala in India and Akhaura in Bangladesh was being constructed and financed under Grant Assistance of India. “During COVID-19, both Railways have shown exemplary foresight in managing the crisis and maintained the supply chain by stepping up transportation of essential commodities,” he said and pointed out that parcel train and container train services had been introduced via Benapole in Bangladesh. “Both these services have already started in the month of July. These have enabled us to move a wide range of products from both sides. Railways have ensured that the two countries can continue our bilateral trade without any disruption and health risk,” he said.
Goyal also committed complete, unstinted & unlimited support to Bangladesh in its development of Bangladesh rail network. He underscored the significance of railway cooperation in enhancing bilateral trade and connectivity and in further boosting the economic partnership between the two countries.
It may be mentioned that in the recent times, India and Bangladesh had stepped up their rail cooperation in mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as trade via land border faced disruptions. Rail as a cost effective and environmental friendly solution, had helped in transporting essential commodities across the border. Both sides saw the highest ever exchange of freight trains in the month of June. A total of 103 freight trains were utilized for carrying essential commodities and raw materials.
Recently, parcel and container train services had also commenced between India and Bangladesh. This was expected to significantly enhance the scope of bilateral trade.
– globalbihari bureau