Indian Railways is working on connecting capitals of all eight Northeast states and also executing a project to link up with Bangladesh’s railway network to facilitate communication with other parts of India via the neighbouring country, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal said on September 11.

With the Centre’s focus on all-round development of the region through better linkages, the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) had already connected Assam’s main city of Guwahati, Tripura’s capital Agartala and Arunachal Pradesh’s Naharlagun.

“A 12-km-long Agartala-Akhaura (Bangladesh) railway project is now under execution to link Tripura’s railway network with Bangladesh’s railway network. Once the project completed, the distance between Tripura and Kolkata would be reduced by 1,100 km,” the railway minister said.

Addressing the foundation-laying ceremony of the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in southern Tripura from New Delhi through video conferencing, Goyal, who is also the commerce and industry minister, said that as part of the initiative towards Aatmanirbhar Bharat, a new item would be chosen in each district and would be developed with all-out efforts before being marketed in India and abroad.

The SEZ is being set up at Paschim Jalefa near Sabroom town in southern Tripura, 130 south of Agartala, but only 72 km from Benglaadesh’s Chittagong port.

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Goyal said that rubber, bamboo, agri-based products and food processing industries would be set up in the SEZ and Rs 650 crore would be invested in it.

“Initially, Rs 60 crore would be spending to develop the infrastructure in the SEZ. Trade with Bangladesh would increase manifold after the setting up of the SEZ and completion of the ongoing railway projects,” he said.

A senior official of Tripura’s Industry and Commerce department said that with the setting up of SEZ would further increase the export potential of the state at least up to Rs 2,000 crore per annum.

He said that the central government has already notified the 16.35 hectares to set up the sector-specific SEZ, which was notified by the Union Commerce and Industry Ministry on December 16, 2019.

Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb said that around 5,000 people would get employment after setting up of the first-ever SEZ in the Northeast state.

“After completion of the under-construction bridge over river Feni by December, Tripura would be directly connected with Bangladesh by road and would facilitate ferrying of goods by using the Chittagong port,” said Deb, who also holds the Industry and Commerce department portfolio.

The Maitri Setu bridge, near the SEZ site, is under construction since 2017.

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