India, Bangladesh heading for exciting beginning: Envoy

Shillong, Jan 29: India and Bangladesh are headed towards a “new and exciting” beginning in their bilateral ties, Bangladesh’s envoy Tariq Ahmad Karim said Wednesday.

“We are trying to re-discover and re-connect to our historical ties, although history and colonial legacy intervened. Despite this, we are headed towards a new beginning,” Karim told journalists after meeting Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma here.

The Bangladesh envoy also announced a slew of new initiatives in trade and commerce besides bilateral exchanges to bring the two countries closer.

One initiative is the proposed construction of national highway 127B that would begin from North Bengal, touch Bhutan, Dhubri (Assam), Dalu (Meghalaya), Narayanganj (Bangladesh) and end at Chittagong port in Bangladesh.

“Talks are on to restart the inland waterway service between the two countries that was an important route for trade and commerce before Partition,” he said.

“We need to upscale our trade and commerce besides connectivity. We are once again thinking in terms of connectivity along the Brahmaputra basin because river transportation has a beneficial effect on the environment over rail and road.”

He said air service between India’s northeast and Bangladesh would get a fillip after Bangladesh Biman agreed to fly twice a week between Guwahati and Dhaka from July this year.

“Initially, Bangladesh Biman would be operating two ATR aircraft and then there is a plan to move to the 727s,” he added.

Disclosing that Shillong-Sylhet-Dhaka bus service is in the final stages of approval, Karim said talks regarding it began some years back.

On Meghalaya’s proposal for opening up of 22 more border “haats” (bazars), he said, “My government is overseeing that such proposal is practically feasible to create space so other states follow suit.”

The “haats”, once thriving centres of trade and commerce, were shut down after the creation of Bangladesh in 1971. Meghalaya has two border “haats” – one at Kalaichar in the state’s West Garo Hills district and Baliamari of Bangladesh’s Kurigram district, and another in Balat (East Khasi Hills district) and Lauwaghar (Dalora) in Sunamganj district of the neighbouring country.

These “haats” are aimed to uplift the economic status of people by establishing the traditional system of marketing of local produce.

IANS