M A I N   N E W S

Teesta river water sharing
Bangladesh PM pins hopes on India

Indian buses for Bangladesh

Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Sunday handed over the keys of 20 buses to Bangladesh. India will hand over another batch of 30 buses along with 88 air-conditioned coaches by April this year.

This forms part of $1 billion line of credit to Bangladesh, the largest single line of credit extended by India to any country, the external affairs ministry said.

India has already delivered 290 double decker buses under the project to the Bangladesh Road Transport Corp. The ministry said these buses were plying in Dhaka, Chittagong and Bogra.

Dhaka, February 17
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today hoped that India would take a “liberal view” to resolve the longstanding Teesta river water sharing issue.

Hasina made the remarks when visiting External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid called on her here and assured India’s support to further strengthen bilateral cooperation and taking forward the friendly ties.

“We hope India will take a liberal view to resolve the problem” and initiate measures to sign the agreement, Hasina said, referring to the Teesta river water sharing issue.

The signing of the agreement on Teesta was delayed due to the opposition by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Khurshid also briefed Hasina about the “good meeting” of the Indo-Bangla Joint Consultative Commission he co-chaired with Bangladeshi counterpart Dipu Moni here yesterday.

He informed Hasina that President Pranab Mukherjee was looking forward to his visit to Dhaka planned next month. After the meeting which lasted about an hour, Hasina and Khurshid launched new buses, given to Bangladesh under the Indian dollar credit line, for local operations.

A total of 50 articulated buses, produced by Indian company Ashok Leyland, are being given to Bangladesh, of which 20 have already been delivered.

Speaking on the occasion, Hasina said her government today received $50 million as part of the $200 million grant given by New Delhi to Dhaka. “This entire amount will be used to construct a bridge over river Padma,” she said.

Referring to the long-pending Land Boundary Agreement between the two countries signed in 1974, she said, “We hope that Indian Parliament, keeping in mind the problems faced by the people, will adopt the constitution amendment bill to ratify this agreement.”

The crucial land boundary issue involves exchange of land involving 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh and 51 Bangladeshi enclaves in India.

The issue has been hanging fire for several years as additional protocols for the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement had to be formalised. The protocols were signed during the 2011 visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Dhaka.

The Indian Cabinet has already approved a draft legislation to amend the Constitution to give effect to the agreement, which Khurshid earlier said would be tabled in the upcoming Budget Session of Parliament for adoption.

“We have initiated steps to enhance regional connectivity with our neighbouring nations. While Dhaka-Kolkata and Dhaka-Agartala bus services are already on, talks are going on to start Dhaka-Shillong, Dhaka-Guwahati and Dhaka-Kathmandu services,” she said.

Observing that such services would go a long way to enhance international cooperation and expanding business and trade with neighbouring countries, Prime Minister Hasina said her government was getting “all cooperation” from India now.

Khurshid said India had extended to Bangladesh the largest credit line of $1 billion ever given by India to any country. Pranab Mukherjee, as the former Finance Minister, had also extended $200 million grant.

He said the Indian government would continue to support Bangladesh’s development and take all measures to further strengthen cooperation and friendly relations with it. — PTI





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