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India steps up rail cooperation with Dhaka | India News

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NEW DELHI: India will deliver 10 wide gauge (BG) locomotives to Bangladesh on Monday as part of its grant aid to the eastern neighbor. India considers rail cooperation with Bangladesh, a country where China is seeking to rapidly expand its economic presence, including through rail connectivity, as vital to promoting trade and connectivity and underpinning economic partnership.
Official sources here said that the delivery of India will fulfill its commitment made during the visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in October 2019.
Foreign Minister S Jaishankar and Rail Minister Piyush Goyal will be present at the virtual ceremony to mark the occasion on Monday. The part of Bangladesh will also be represented by its Foreign Minister, Abul Kalam Abdul Momen, and the Minister of Railways, Nurul Islam Sujan.
India and Bangladesh are working together to improve rail connectivity by developing some crucial rail projects and restoring some older rail links with Bangladesh, according to Indian authorities.
“A total of 17 rail sector projects have been included in the LoC (credit line) assistance extended by India to Bangladesh, with a commitment of $ 2.44 billion,” said an official source, adding that India had offered all LoCs to Bangladesh at an annual interest rate of 1% and repayment for 20 years with a 5 year moratorium.
Of the 17 railway projects, according to India, 9 have been completed, including the supply of locomotives, flat wagons, railway bridges and signaling equipment.
Rail projects being implemented with LoC assistance include the Kulaura-Shahbazpur rail line at a cost of $ 78 million, likely to be completed later this year, and the Khulna-Mongla rail line project worth of $ 389 million (which includes a rail bridge) that is likely to be completed in June 2021.
“Three other projects in various stages of implementation pertain to the dual-line track, a conversion of the meter line to a double gauge line and a new double gauge railway line,” an official said.
In addition to them, a 12 km cross-border rail link is being built under a grant between Agartala and the city of Akhaura on the Dhaka-Chittagong trunk line. This is likely to be completed by March 2021 and will further improve passenger and cargo connectivity between India and the northeast states, a source said.
Under its BRI initiative, China has been working to expand Bangladesh’s rail network, including by building a line from Dhaka to Jessore in southwest Bangladesh.
Currently, the 4 operational rail links between India and Bangladesh connecting West Bengal with Bangladesh are Petrapole, India to Benapole, Bangladesh, Gede, India to Darshana, Bangladesh, Singhabad, India to Rohanpur, Bangladesh and Radhikapur (India) to Birol (Bangladesh).
Two passenger trains, Bandhan Express from Kolkata to Khulna and Maitree Express from Kolkata to Dhaka, also operate between the 2 countries. At the moment, however, his service has been temporarily suspended due to the pandemic.

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