The Akhaura-Agartala railway may usher in new trade potentials between Bangladesh and Northeast India. The project stakeholders are making all kinds of preparations to inaugurate the Akhaura-Agartala railway soon.
Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi are scheduled to inaugurate this railway line on September 9.
Railway tracks have been installed in the entire section of the Agartala-Akhaura railway. However, the work on the customs and immigration building and the station platform is yet to be completed. There is a great deal of excitement about this initiative in both the nations. It is anticipated that this networking endeavor would fundamentally alter both Bangladesh and India.
Chittagong and Mongla ports in Bangladesh may be used to carry goods from other sea ports in India to other states in the Northeast via Agartala. As a consequence, trade will grow in these states, and it will be easier and quicker to carry products while also cutting the cost of doing so.
One of the most well-known connecting projects between India and Bangladesh is the Agartala-Akhaura international railway. Before Independence, Akhaura served as Agartala’s rail connection. The railway between Akhaura and Agartala is now beginning to prosper. A loan from India is being used to carry out the project. According to project authorities, more than 90% of the work on the Akhaura-Agartala project has been finished. The railway line has been completely laid.
The 15.064 km railway line, which spans 5.05 km of India and 10.014 km of Bangladesh, would connect Bangladesh’s Akhaura to the fringes of Agartala by means of Nischintapur’s international immigration station. Nishchintapur station is a dual gauge station for the exchange of passengers and goods between India and Bangladesh. For the interchange of both passengers and products between India and Bangladesh, this station will have dual gauge.
If the cost of import is reduced, the product can be delivered at a lower price to the consumer. As a result, this railway will play an important role in the commercial sector. Three minor and one large bridges are also part of the project.
While visiting India in January 2010, Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina signed a memorandum of understanding. The project, which began in 2016, is now being completed. Due to difficulties with land acquisition and the COVID-19 pandemic, the project was intended to be finished in 2020 but was postponed. An international immigration station would be located in Nischintapur at the India-Bangladesh border on the railway line connecting Bangladesh’s Akhaura. Once in service, the railway will cut the time it takes to travel from Agartala to Kolkata from 31 hours to 10 hours, opening up a wealth of prospects for business, travel, and cross-cultural interaction.
For this project, the Indian Railways allotted Rs 153.84 crore. The project is being funded by the Ministry of DONER (Development of North Eastern Region), and Rs 708.74 crore of the anticipated cost have already been supplied and used. This railroad connection is one of the 16 recognized transit routes that permit the shipment of merchandise from the ports of Chattogram or Mongla to Indian states.
Two Indian states, Tripura and West Bengal, would be conveniently connected to Bangladesh through this railway link. The distance between the two Indian cities of Kolkata and Agartala would be shorter thanks to this new railway connection. The general growth of the Northeast area would be greatly aided by this railway link. Bangladesh’s trade with Northeast India will also expand, and export-dependent small industries will expand.
In addition, a contract between India and Bangladesh permits Indian businesspeople to ship products through the ports of Chattogram and Mongla in Bangladesh. This railway will improve commerce and contribute to the economic growth of both countries and states. It will not only facilitate more travel between the two nations’ populations, but it will also be crucial for the import and export of products from Chittagong port.
Additionally, this rail route would benefit both nations’ tourism industries. The new train project will improve ties between India and Bangladesh, support the development of small-scale companies along the border, and increase tourism in the region’s northeast. Improving the speed of commodity export and import would help regional manufacturers sell their goods abroad.
Safowan Hossain Khan is a researcher, specializing in South Asian Affairs