Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said on Monday that relations between Bangladesh and India have become a role model for the rest of the world.
“The bilateral relations between Bangladesh and India have now appeared as a role model for the rest of the world. Supply of another 500MW power from India will boost our development,” she said while addressing the inaugural ceremony of a 500MW power grid line.The premier said both the neighbouring countries will benefit from the project of power supply to Bangladesh from India through Behrampur-Bheramara interconnection.
“The support from the Indian prime minister [Narendra Modi] for our development will become a milestone,” she said.
Narendra Modi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also joined the programme through videoconferencing.
Sheikh Hasina joined the programme from Ganabhaban, Narendra Modi from New Delhi and Mamata Banerjee from Kolkata.
Speaking on the occasion, Narendra Modi said with the launch of the projects the relations between Bangladesh and India have deepened further.
“From today, we have become closer and our relationship has deepened further,” he said, adding that a golden chapter has begun with the opening of the three projects.Hasina and Modi along with Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb inaugurated the work on Agartala-Akhaura rail-link and the rehabilitation of Kulaura-Shahbazpur section of Bangladesh Railway through videoconferencing at that time.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh needs more energy to keep up its high economic growth and the government is planning to import electricity from neighbours under the regional cooperation framework.
“We have a plan to import 9000MW electricity from neighbouring countries by 2041,” she added.
Expressing the hope that India will stand by Bangladesh in its endeavour, Sheikh Hasina said Narendra Modi will take necessary steps regarding Mamata’s offer to supply 1,000 MW more electricity to Bangladesh.
The prime minister extended her thanks to her Indian counterpart for supporting Bangladesh in its development pursuit.
In recent years, she said, the two nations witnessed a remarkable progress on cooperation in a host of areas, including trade and commerce, power and energy, connectivity, infrastructure development and people-to-people contact.
Sheikh Hasina said both sides have ventured into new areas such as blue economy and maritime cooperation, nuclear energy, cyber security, space research and so on.
Terming the power sector a ‘crucial element’ of bilateral cooperation, she said currently, Bangladesh is importing 660 MW of electricity from India.
Referring to her government’s success in increasing the power generation capacity, the premier said the capacity has now stood at more than 20,000MW from 3,200MW over the past nine and a half years.
She said the government is building 55 more power plants having generation capacities of 13,690MW.
About cooperation in the railway sector, Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh and India are experiencing enhanced cooperation and working to reopen the pre-1965 rail links for cargo transport between the two countries.
She hoped that both sides will soon jointly inaugurate the groundbreaking for the construction of the 3rd and 4th dual gauge rail tracks between Dhaka and Tongi, and doubling the dual gauge tracks between Tongi and Joydevpur funded by India under its Line of Credit.
The prime minister expressed optimism that both the countries will have many more similar happy occasions in days to come to jointly celebrate success stories of the collective endeavours.
Speaking on the occasion, Modi recalled that he met Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina several times in the recent past, including at the BIMSTEC meeting in Kathmandu, in Shanti Niketan, and during the Commonwealth Summit in London.
He reiterated his view that leaders of neighbouring countries should have a relationship like neighbours, talking and visiting frequently, without getting bogged down by protocol.
He said this closeness is evident in the frequent interactions between him and the Bangladesh Prime Minister.
The Indian premier recalled Sheikh Hasina’s vision of restoring connectivity to the way it was before 1965.
He said he is happy that in the last few years, there has been steady progress towards this goal.
He said: Today we have increased our power connectivity, and started two projects to increase our railway connectivity.”
He recalled that during his visit to Bangladesh in 2015, it had been decided to supply an additional 500MW power to Bangladesh.
He said this is being done using the transmission link between West Bengal and Bangladesh, and thanked the Chief Minister of West Bengal for her facilitation in completion of this work.
He said that with the completion of this project, 1.16 Gigawatts of power is now being supplied from India to Bangladesh.
He said this journey from Megawatts to Gigawatts is symbolic of a golden era in the relations between India and Bangladesh.
The Indian prime minister said that Akhaura-Agartala rail connectivity will provide another link in the cross-border connectivity between the two countries.
He thanked the Chief Minister of Tripura for his facilitation in completion of this work.
Modi appreciated Sheikh Hasina’s development goals of transforming Bangladesh into a middle-income country by 2021, and a developed country by 2041.
He said that closer relations and people-to-people links between the two countries would take our development and prosperity to new heights.
During her speech, Bangladesh premier invited West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for visiting Bangladesh.
In response, Mamata said, “You win in the next elections. We will come to your country.”
Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, and the chief ministers of West Bengal and Tripura also spoke on the occasion.
Railways Minister M Mazibul Hoque, Prime Minister’s Advisers HT Imam, Dr Gowher Rizvi and Dr Towfique-e-Elahi Chowdhury, State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid and Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Harsh Vardhan Shringla were present at Ganobhaban.
Earlier, a documentary was screened highlighting the Bangladesh-India cooperation in different sectors.