GUWAHATI, Jan 23 � The problem of communication to the North East region is likely to ease out soon as the Governments of India and Bangladesh have started working on modalities for using the Chittagong port for transportation of goods to the region. Though no specific date for using the Chittagong port has been finalized, it is expected that both the Government will be able to hammer out the issues relating to it shortly.
Highly placed sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) told The Assam Tribune that the issue was discussed in the sidelines of the recent meeting between the Home Secretaries of both the countries in Dhaka. Though the main aim of the Home Secretary level meeting is to discuss security related issues, other issues like development were also discussed in the sidelines of the meeting and improvement of communication to the North East was one of the key issues which came up for discussion.
Sources pointed out that though the Government of Bangladesh has agreed on principle to allow India to use the Chittagong port for transportation of goods to and from the North East, some modalities would have to be worked out before the port is used. Sources revealed that the first priority would have to be improvement of the necessary infrastructure. The Government of Bangladesh has agreed to improve the road connectivity from Chittagong to the international border with India and it would be for the Government of India to improve the condition of the roads to the border to facilitate free movement of goods. Interestingly, the Government of Bangladesh has not demanded any grant from India to improve the condition of the roads leading to the international border.
MHA sources said that the facilities in the land custom stations would have to be improved for transportation of goods through the Chittagong port and it might be necessary to set up new custom stations as the existing customs points would not be able to handle the volume of goods to be transported through Chittagong once the port is opened to India. The concerned ministries of both India and Bangladesh are working on clearing all the other major hurdles to facilitate use of the port for transportation of goods to and from the North East, sources added.
The Government of Bangladesh has assured India that security would not be a problem for transportation of goods through the Chittagong port and India would have to take care while transporting goods through some of the militancy hit areas of North East, sources pointed out.
Sources said that in the recent meeting, the Government of Bangladesh reiterated that the soil of Bangladesh would never be allowed to be used by the organizations hostile to India and the Indian delegation appreciated the role of the Government of the neighbouring country in this regard. It may be mentioned here that the Government of Bangladesh has made life tough for the militants using that country as safe haven for years and a number of hardcore militants have already been handed over to India.
The issue of disputes along the international border was also discussed and though both the countries accepted the need for early solution of the issue, it would take some time before the problem is settled. Sources said that most of the adverse possession lands are inhabited and the Governments would have to take a decision at the political level to settle the issue.