Despite having huge prospects, Chilahati landport is yet to start its operation even after eight years of announcement to do so.
The announcement for making the landport, which was shut during India-Pakistan war in 1965, functional remained limited only to the issuance of a gazette notification.Besides, work on the project of broad-gauge rail connectivity from Chilahati to Holdibari in India is yet to start on Bangladesh side despite budget allocation for the project.
But the construction of railway up to Chilahati border on the Indian side has already been completed, said convenor of Nilphamari Unnyan Forum Wahed Sarker.
A project for establishing the rail link from Chilahati to Indian border, and upgradation of Chilahati Railway Statio is yet to see the light although it was approved by the Planning Commission a year ago, he said.
Local businessmen said Cilahati, located at Bhograburi union of Domar upazila, 45 km north off Nilphamari sadar, was a business hub during the British period.
Many institutions, including customs station and immigration check post, were established at that time in the interest of the business community.
Now direct inter-city trains run from Chilahati to Dhaka-Khulna and Rajshahi. There are many banks, government and non-government educational institutions, markets, business centres, a police investigation centre , a BGB camp in Chilahati. Besides, there are spinning mills, jute mills, ceramic factory and garment factories in different parts of the district.According to businessmen, if Chilahati landport and rail link between Chilahati and India are established, the connectivity with India, Nepal, Bhutan and China will improve while the trade and commerce will see a rise in the days to come.
It will also help reduce the expenses of import and export. If the port’s operation starts, investors will show their interest to invest in Uttra EPZ there giving a boost to economic activity.
Convener of Chilahati landport implementation committee Abu Musa Mahmudul Haque said then Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan at a public rally in 2011 had announced to make Chilahati landport operational.
It was discussed at a cabinet meeting in July, 2013 and a gazette was issued for establishing the landport in August.
As the landport work remained unimplemented, the businessmen of the northern region have to import and export goods through Darsana,Sonamasjid, Benapole, Hily and Burimari landports at high costs, said Wahed Sarker.
“Revenue from export and import of both Bangladesh and India governments would increase if the landport goes into operation. It also will help increase commerce and trade in the northern region, create jobs and bring socio-economic development,” he said.
Deputy Commissioner of the district Najia Shirin said the issue was raised during the DCs' conference in July last year when Shipping Secretary Ashok Madhab informed that a gazette was issued in this regard but the project is yet to be implemented.