India, Bangladesh set to speed up connectivity with new rail route

Edited By: Gravitas desk WION
New Delhi Published: Dec 11, 2020, 10:57 PM(IST)

India-Bangladesh Photograph:( Zee News Network )

Story highlights

The rail route connects Haldibari in West Bengal to Chilahati in Bangladesh.

India and Bangladesh are writing a new chapter in their relationship with a rail route set to open after a gap of 55 years to speed up connectivity between the two countries.

Leaders from both sides are set to hold a virtual summit next week with a lot more in store.

The rail route connects Haldibari in West Bengal to Chilahati in Bangladesh. The prime ministers of both countries will inaugurate the rail line next week when they meet for a virtual summit on December 17.

Reports claim at least four MoUs can be signed next week. These agreements are expected to boost bilateral cooperation. The summit is the culmination of a series of overtures that New Delhi has made to Dhaka.

In August, India's foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla had travelled to Bangladesh to boost cooperation. Prime Minister Modi had sent a personal message to Sheikh Hasina through the Indian diplomat since then India and Bangladesh have focused on speeding up several connectivity and transit projects.

Both countries have now set up a new mechanism to review the ventures which includes an oil pipeline and two cross-border rail links set to be completed in 2021. The Chilahati-Haldibari rail line was also brought under the same mechanism.

At present 28 per cent of India's development budget goes to Bangladesh which translates into $10 billion which is a significant investment to counter the Dragon's growing influence in India's neighbourhood.

Now both countries are ready to kick off a new phase in their relationship. Bangladesh has invited Prime Minister Modi to visit Dhaka next year for the 50th-anniversary celebrations of the liberation of Bangladesh.

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