India-Bangladesh bus services to bring people closer: Officials

Agartala, June 2 (IANS) India and Bangladesh share the view that the proposed bus service between the two neighbouring countries would usher in positivity in relations, bringing the people on both sides closer to each other.

The bus service would strengthen relationship between the people of India and Bangladesh, top officials of the two countries said here on Tuesday.

As part of the trial run for the Agartala-Dhaka-Kolkata bus service, an air-conditioned 45-seater Volvo bus, carrying an 11-member delegation of the West Bengal government, left from Kolkata’s Salt Lake international bus terminus on Monday morning.

It reached Bangladeshi capital city of Dhaka on Monday night and left for Agartala in Tripura on Tuesday morning after Bangladesh government officials boarded the bus.

The bus, carrying officials of the West Bengal and Bangladesh governments, reached the3 Tripura capital in the morning.

Bangladesh Road Transport and Highways Division’s joint secretary Mohammad Abdur Rouf Khan, who led a nine-member Bangladesh delegation, on arrival here said the roads connecting Bangladesh and India were good and favourable.

Stating that “India-Bangladesh relations are now at the historic moment”, Khan said: “The bus service between India and Bangladesh would further strengthen the relationship between the people of two countries.”

West Bengal transport department principal secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay, who led his government’s official team, said: “After the introduction of the bus service, people of India and Bangladesh would come closer to each other.”

“West Bengal government is very much enthused to launch the bus service between Agartala and Kolkata via Bangladesh.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Premier Sheikh Hasina are scheduled to flag off the bus services between Agartala and Kolkata via Bangladesh and Dhaka and Guwahati during Modi’s two-day visit to the neighbouring country from June 6.

A similar trial run on the Dhaka-Sylhet-Tamabil-Dawki-Shillong-Guwahati route was conducted on May 22-26 to study the road conditions and other navigational issues. First trial run on the 500-km route was held in December last year.

The proposed Agartala-Kolkata bus service via Bangladesh is expected to facilitate the visits of the people of the mountainous northeastern region to other Indian states, reducing the distance by over 1,000 km.

The distance between Agartala and Kolkata via Guwahati by road is 1,650 km. But the distance between Agartala and Kolkata via Bangladesh is only around 500 km.

As part of a similar trial run, a Tripura Road Transport Corporation (TRTC) bus will leave here for Kolkata via Dhaka on Wednesday.

The cross-border bus service was approved at a recent meeting between Bangladesh Road Transport Minister Obaidul Quader and Indian Minister Nitin Gadkari in New Delhi.

Tripura’s Transport Minister Manik Dey said the state government has been demanding direct bus service between Tripura and other northeastern states and Kolkata through Bangladesh for a long time for easy movement of people from the region.

“Since March 2010, a series of meetings were held between the officials of the ministries of external affairs and road transport and highways, and Tripura and West Bengal governments and other organisations,” Dey said.

“Currently, the Agartala-Dhaka and Dhaka-Agartala bus services are being run for four days a week and the periodicity is likely to be increased due to the demand of the Kolkata-bound passengers,” a Tripura transport department official said.

The Agartala-Dhaka bus service started in September 2003. The Kolkata-Dhaka bus service was introduced in July 1999.

The BRTC, TRTC and the West Bengal Surface Transport Corporation are now operating the Agartala-Dhaka, and Kolkata-Dhaka bus services.

Transportation via Bangladesh is much easier as road connectivity is a big factor for the mountainous northeastern states which share boundaries with Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan and China.

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