AGARTALA, May 22 � If everything falls in place, a deal on the Agartala-Kolkata direct bus service would be finalised during Prime Minister Narendra Modi�s proposed Dhaka visit scheduled next month.
�We are hopeful that the long-cherished Agartala-Kolkata via Dhaka bus service will get gain ground during the Prime Minister�s visit to Dhaka next month�, said Tripura Transport Minister Manik Dey when asked about the status of the Agratala-Kolkata direct bus service on Friday.
He said there was a meeting between Dhaka and Delhi on the direct bus service between Agartala-Dhaka around five years back but it did not make much progress for unknown reasons.
Later, the State Government had written a letter to the Centre requesting it to take up the issue with Dhaka for consideration. Unfortunately, the effort fell short as then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his visit to Dhaka could not push the issue after Teesta agreement had got dropped.
�Now, the direct bus service plan is gaining ground ahead of Modiji�s visit to Dhaka. We want the direct bus service between Agartala and Kolkata to start at the earliest. People of the State will be benefited if the plan is implemented�, he said.
After the four-decade old land swap deal was sealed, Bangladesh Government is in a jubilant mood. Now, the Centre wants to reap the harvest by clearing the direct bus service between Agartala-Kolkata via Dhaka. Dey, however, said there is no communication from Delhi on the proposed direct bus service.
The distance between Agartala and Kolkata via Dhaka is around 500 km and a bus will take 12 hours to travel the route. And, two more hours will be required for immigration check and verification of passengers travelling on the bus.
Rejecting the proposal for buying luxurious Volvo bus, Dey said the government plans to buy airconditioned bus if the service is introduced. �While each Valvo bus costs Rs 75 lakh, a good air-conditioned bus will require only Rs 35 lakh. It means the government can buy two buses instead of one Valvo bus�, he pointed out.
It has been learnt that Chief Minister Manik Sarkar would be accompanying the Prime Minister during his visit to Dhaka. Sarkar himself wants the long awaited deal should be finalised when the heads of two countries meet at Dhaka.
Governor Tathagata Roy, who assumed office recently, also favoured a direct bus service between Agartala and Kolkata via Dhaka at the earliest.