Tuesday, 28 March, 2023

Indo-Bangla friendship pipeline opens

A milestone achievement in mutual cooperation: Hasina Reflection of Bangabandhu’s vision of friendship: Modi

Indo-Bangla friendship pipeline opens

The India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline started operation on Saturday to supply low-cost diesel to Bangladesh from India.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi inaugurated the first-ever cross-border energy pipeline between the two countries through videoconferencing, reports BSS.

After opening the pipeline, both the prime ministers expressed the hope that it will play an effective role in expediting Bangladesh’s economic growth, stressing the need for enhancing connectivity between the two countries for mutual benefits.

The 130-km energy pipeline between India and Bangladesh was built at an estimated cost of INR 377 crore.

The Bangladesh portion of the pipeline, built at a cost of INR 285 crore, has been financed by the Indian government under its grant assistance.

The pipeline has a capacity to transport 1 million tonnes per annum of high-speed diesel (HSD). It will supply diesel initially to seven northern districts of the country.

A long-term agreement was signed in 2017 to import diesel from Numaligarh Refinery Limited of India to Bangladesh through the pipeline, which stretches from West Bengal’s Siliguri to a Meghna petroleum depot in Dinajpur's Parbatipur, according to official sources.

The operation of the friendship pipeline will put in place a sustainable, reliable, cost-effective and environment-friendly mode of transporting HSD from India to Bangladesh.

 It will further enhance cooperation in energy security between the two friendly neighbours.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said the inauguration of the friendship pipeline is a milestone achievement in mutual cooperation for the development of the two friendly neighbours.

She hoped that Bangladesh and India will jointly celebrate many such successes in the days to come. "We’ll work together on the international stage... we’ll work together for the development of the peoples of our two friendly countries," she said.

The prime minister hoped that Bangladesh-India relations will further be strengthened in future.

She also said the pipeline will play a significant role in protecting the energy security of Bangladesh’s people and expedite the country's development.

Sheikh Hasina said the mutual cooperation in energy between India and Bangladesh has increased. "We're importing 1160MW of power from India. Some more regional and bilateral initiatives in the power sector are under implementation. Our cooperation to this end will be deep-rooted in the days to come," she added.

The two prime ministers on September 18, 2018 virtually laid down the construction work of the cross-border pipeline.

“The pipeline has come into operation from today with its opening. The people of India and Bangladesh will be benefited in many ways with the opening of the pipeline," Sheikh Hasina said.

She said many countries have been facing energy crisis due to the Russia-Ukraine war. "The pipeline will play a pivotal role in ensuring our energy security. Money and time in importing diesel from India will be saved," she said.

The prime minister added that the pipeline will ensure stability in diesel conditions in 16 northern districts of the country.

She described India as a "true friend" of Bangladesh with shared common culture and traditions for thousands of years. "The historic and geographical bond will further consolidate the relations between Bangladesh and India," she said.

Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh and India jointly have transformed many problems into prosperity in the previous years. "We're solving the existing problems between the two countries one after another. We’ve developed communication and enhanced trade and commerce for mutual benefits. We're working for mutual development and we're getting assistance from India," she said.

She said Bangladesh has achieved the status of a developing nation and is working to transform it into a developed one by 2041.

Mentioning that they are currently building 100 economic zones across the country, the prime minister offered India land in the economic zones. "I want Indian investors to invest in the economic zones."

She thanked the Indian government and people for giving unconditional support to Bangladesh during the Liberation War in 1971 alongside giving shelter to one crore refugees from Bangladesh, and providing the freedom fighters with training and firearms.

"We had achieved the final victory (against the Pakistani occupation forces) on December 16 due to the drives of Bangladesh-India allied force," Sheikh Hasina said.

Recalling her political asylum in India with her sister Sheikh Rehana after the assassination of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman along with most of his family members on August 15, 1975, she said, "I personally indebted to the Indian government and  people. We two sisters and our relatives, who survived, took shelter in India."

Our New Delhi correspondent adds: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed the friendship pipeline the reflection of vision of Bangabandhu’s friendship. “It’s an historic time when the pipeline is inaugurated a day after the birthday of Bangabandhu. It was his vision that through ‘maitree’ (friendship) project, both India and Bangladesh embark on a journey of development,” he said after inaugurating the pipeline.

 He also said, “Today a historic new chapter of bilateral relationship has been established through this project.”

The Indian prime minister announced that the second unit of Rampal power plant will be inaugurated soon.

He also praised the able leadership of his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina under whose leadership Bangladesh is making enormous progress.

Modi also lauded her for her vision of reconnecting all the rail and road connectivity which was there before 1965.

He hoped that this diesel friendship pipeline will boost the development activities in Bangladesh.

“When many developing countries are struggling to manage fertiliser and energy supply after the outbreak of Russia-Ukraine war, this pipeline is an example of developmental partnership to overcome the challenges,” the Indian prime minister said.

“This pipeline will cater diesel to the six north Bengal districts of Bangladesh initially. The farmers and local entrepreneurs of those areas will be immensely benefitted not only by reduced cost but also minimising carbon footprint of the geography,” he said.

Modi also reminded that more connectivity through roads, rail energy and digital connectivity will enhance the people-to-people contact easily.

He said the railway connectivity has given an opportunity to supply oxygen cylinders to Bangladesh during the time of Covid, expressing the hope that energy cooperation in hydrocarbon will increase many times as India’s basket has grown upto US$ 1 billion in all stream-upstream, down-stream and mid stream.