New Delhi: Indian Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Tuesday handed over 20 modern diesel locomotives to Bangladesh.
To further strengthen the bilateral relationship, BG locomotives were virtually flagged off to Bangladesh in a handing-over ceremony held at Rail Bhavan New Delhi. "It's a matter of great pleasure that India has given 20 modern diesel locomotives to Bangladesh. Earlier, out of 9 old connections between India and Bangladesh, five have been revived, work on two is underway and preparations are on for the remaining two," Vaishnaw said.
Speaking on this occasion, he said, "India's relationship with Bangladesh is civilizational, cultural, social and economic. Prime Ministers of both countries are playing a proactive role to improve bilateral relationships across social, economic and political sectors."
"Indian Railways are also playing a vital role in improving and strengthening rail connectivity across the border and improving trade between both countries. As of now, five BG connectivity are operational, namely Geda- Darsana, Benapol- Petrapol, Singhabad- Rohanpur, Radhikapur- Birol and Haldibari-Chilahati. Work on two more cross-border rail connectivities, Akhaura-Agartala and Mahihasan-Shahbazpur are progressing well and are likely to be completed and commissioned shortly," he said.
To enhance people-to-people contact, presently three pairs of passenger trains between India and Bangladesh, namely, Kolkata-Dhaka Maitree Express, Kolkata-Khulna Bandhan Express and New Jalpaiguri- Dhaka Mitali Express are running.
From the Bangladesh end, the Minister of Railway, Md Nurul Islam Sujan also joined in virtually.
Addressing the gathering virtually, Minister of Railway Sujan said, "I express my gratitude to the Indian Government for their support. Previously in June 2020, Indian Government provided 10 locomotives to Bangladesh as grants. We express our heartfelt gratitude to India for providing broad gauge locomotives. The supply of locomotives will help to improve both goods and passenger trains. We hope that existing collaboration between two countries regarding the Railways sector will increase day by day."
The handing over of these diesel locomotives, under grant assistance from the Government of India, fulfils an important commitment made during the visit of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina to India, in October 2019, read a press statement from the Ministry of Railways.
In keeping with the requirements of Bangladesh Railway, the locomotives have been suitably modified by the Indian side. These locomotives will help handle the increasing volume of passenger and freight train operations in Bangladesh.
Trade between both countries via rail has seen consistent growth with the interchange of close to 100 cargo trains per month and approximately 2.66 MT cargo was sent to Bangladesh in the last financial year, it read.
It further read, "The export commodities are Stone, DOC, Foodgrains, China Clay, Gypsum, Maize, Onion and other essential items, as and when required, from India. Since 2020 permission has been given to operate parcel containers and NMG rakes which normally carry agricultural products, fabrics, finished goods, light commercial vehicles and tractors. A new traffic of geo-synthetic bags has just started and 3 Parcel trains have been sent from Gujarat."
In line with the Indian commitment to improving Rail service in Bangladesh, 10 BG Diesel locomotives were handed over to Bangladesh on a grant basis in July 2020. As reported by Bangladesh, these locomotives are performing well and contributing well to the smooth movement of rail traffic in Bangladesh.
The event was attended by AK Lahoti, Chairman and CEO, the Railway Board, Board Members, senior officials of the Railway Board and delegates of Bangladesh.