GUWAHATI, July 26 � Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh�s scheduled visit to Bangladesh in the first part of September is likely to give a big boost to the economy of the North East region as connectivity will be on the top of the agenda during the discussions in Dhaka.
Highly placed official sources in New Delhi told The Assam Tribune that the issue of providing transit facilities to the North East through Bangladesh is likely to be formalized during the visit of the Prime Minister. The Government of Bangladesh has already agreed on principle to provide transit facilities to North East through that country as well as use of the Chittagong port for transporting goods to and from the region and a final shape to the move is likely to be given during the visit of Dr Singh.
Sources pointed out that the connectivity of the NE region would improve considerably as and when goods are transported through Bangladesh and the transportation cost would also come down considerably. However, it is still not decided how many points along the international border would be used for transportation of goods in the initial stage.
For transportation of goods, the Government of India and the concerned State Governments would have to improve the condition of the roads inside India. The road condition in Bangladesh would have to be improved by that country and for that there is every possibility of India extending financial support.
The Government of India has already set up a corpus fund of one Billion US Dollars for proving long term soft loan to Bangladesh for infrastructure development and the amount is likely to be enhanced after the visit of Dr Singh. Sources said that the Government of Bangladesh might be asked to develop necessary infrastructure for facilitating transportation of goods through that country from that fund at the earliest so that the region can start using the transit facilities soon.
Sources said that Kolkata-Dhaka and Agartala-Dhaka bus services have already been introduced and the Government of India has agreed on principle to introduce Guwahati-Dhaka bus service. But it is yet to be decided as to when such a bus service will be introduced as a series of formalities would have to be completed before taking such a major step.
Though the Government of Bangladesh launched a major crackdown against the militant outfits taking shelter in that country and handed over a number of leaders of the outfits just before the last visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to New Delhi, no such step is expected before the visit of Dr Singh as no major militant leader is now staying in Bangladesh. Sources said that according to information available with the security agencies, some of the militant groups of NE states are still maintaining small bases in Bangladesh but no senior leader wanted by India is in the neighbouring country. Moreover, the Government of Bangladesh has been taking action against the militants whenever any specific input of their stay in Bangladesh is received, sources added.