Issue #1, April, 2020


India eyes Belonia-Feni railway connectivity with Bangladesh
Belonia subdivision of South Tripura may emerge as a point of connectivity as plans are underway to connect it with Myanmar’s Sittwe Port via Bangladesh’s Feni by railway
The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) authorities inspected Belonia railway station as well as Muhurighat integrated checkpost in the sub-division on 1 and 2 February. The authorities were led by senior section engineer Rajendra Prasad Deka in the company of Belonia constituency’s MLA Arun Chandra Bhowmik. Speaking to reporters, Rajendra Prasad Deka said, “The railway connectivity between Belonia and Feni in Chittagong shall give Tripura access to Myanmar’s Sittwe port. And this shall facilitate cargo transportation in Northeast India and reduce freight charges as such”.
Bangladesh signs €360 mn deal with ADB for international road corridor
It is part of a priority international transport corridor that connects Bangladesh with Bhutan, India and Nepal.
The Government of Bangladesh has signed a €360 mn loan agreement with the Asian Development Bank to upgrade the Dhaka- Northwest international trade corridor. The assistance forms the second tranche of $1.2 billion multi-tranche ADB loans for the second South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation or SASEC Dhaka-Northwest Corridor Road Project.
Talks on BBIN Vehicle deal to resume
The development comes after a trial run of a tri-nation (Bangladesh, India, and Nepal) bus service in April 2018. 
Discussions on the much-talked about sub-regional connectivity initiative - BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA) - are going to resume after around two years. A Joint Working Group (JWG) meeting on Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal (BBIN) MVA was held on January 30-31 in New Delhi. The meeting’s purpose is to finalise the BBIN MVA Protocols, namely the Passenger Vehicle Protocol and the Cargo Vehicles Protocol.
Dhaka-Siliguri train service from June
The government is set to inaugurate construction of Bangabandhu Railway Bridge on the Jamuna River in March.
The government is set to inaugurate construction of Bangabandhu Railway Bridge on the Jamuna River on March 14. Railways Minister Md Nurul Islam Sujan has said direct train service on Dhaka-Siliguri route will begin in June after installation of the Chilahati-Haldibari rail track. The government has long been working to ensure stronger rail communications inside the country and with neighbouring India.
Two more Indo-Bangla train routes in discussion
Currently, Maitree Express operates on Saturdays, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The train service will also be available on Tuesdays from February 11, Sujan said.
Bangladesh Railway will start discussion with Indian Railways soon to assess whether two more passenger train routes can be opened between the countries, Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan said. On the Dhaka-Kolkata route, Maitree Express will run five days a week instead of four days from February 11 and Bandhan Express two days instead of one day on the Khulna-Kolkata route from February 16, he said.
Bangladesh wants waterway links with Bhutan, Nepal , India’s Assam
The newly approved projects include procuring  ancillary marine vessels for the Mongla Port at a cost Tk 767.25 crore to enhance container handing capacity
The Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina directed the shipping ministry to expanding communications with India’s north-eastern province of Assam as well as Bhutan and Nepal by waterways. The PM issued the directive while chairing a meeting of the executive committee of the national economic council at the planning commission. She also asked the operators to install most modern scanners to further modernize the Chattogram Port, the Mongla Port, and the Payra port.


Mini Dry Port ready for use in Pasakha
It is one of the three components of South Asian Sub-region Economic Cooperation (SASEC) project with Phuentsholing thromde.
The construction of the country’s first mini-dry port in Phuentsholing is complete and ready for use. Spanning 5.4 acres of land, the port is located near the second gate and connects the Northern Bypass, another SASEC project in Phuentsholing. The port would house more than 45 trucks and have customs clearance for imports and exports, and help decongest the country’s commercial hub.
Two SASEC Road Connectivity Project Completed
Of three mega South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) projects, two packages are complete in Pasakha.
The Department of Roads (DoR) has contracted the entire project which is split into three packages. The first package was the construction of the Bhalujhora bridge. The second package was to construct the multicellular box culvert across Bahunijhora, and the third being the development of land customs station.The Multi-cellular Box Culvert along including gabion protection wall along Bhalujhora was completed in May.


Budget 2020: Tackling infrastructure woes need of the hour
One of the ways would be to mandate financial institutions to recognize the infrastructure status given to Indian logistics
There are no two opinions that the missing link in India's economic growth story was, and is, a robust infrastructure. This just about sums up the key role infrastructure plays to support and sustain a durable economic growth for India at a time when the economy is showing signs of fatigue. The granting of infrastructure status to the logistics sector, which covered cold chain and warehousing facilities, was seen as a strategic initiative meant to aid the sector in gaining access to institutional credit and boost its global competitiveness in the domestic and export markets.
India’s longest bridge set to come up between Assam & Meghalaya, impact millions of lives
The 19.8-km-long bridge will be built over the Brahmaputra between Dhubri in Assam and Phulbari in Meghalaya, bringing socio-economic relief to the region.
The Narendra Modi cabinet has approved the construction of the Dhubri-Phulbari bridge. The 19.8-km-long bridge will be built over the Brahmaputra to reduce the distance between Dhubri in Assam and Phulbari in Meghalaya, bringing socio-economic relief to the region. The bridge will replace the 9.1-km-long Bhupen Hazarika Setu, also known as the Dhola-Sadiya Bridge in eastern Assam, as India’s longest bridge.
9% of total railway budget 2020 allocated to North Eastern states: Assam Governor
Prof. Jagdish Mukhi said that government of India is very liberal in investing in infrastructure to eliminate service backlogs of North East with special emphasis on rural areas.
Assam Governor Prof. Jagdish Mukhi said that in railway budget 2020-21, centre has allocated nine per cent of the total budget for the North eastern states. Speaking at the inaugural session of North East Infrastructure Development Conclave for the development of physical connectivity and integrated urban development for Northeast, Prof. Mukhi said that government of India is very liberal in investing in infrastructure to eliminate service backlogs of North East with special emphasis on rural areas.
Modi govt’s waterways authority set to rope in private players to build, operate terminals
With private players queuing up, Inland Waterways Authority of India looks at moving out of building terminals and jetties on waterways.
Seven big private Indian companies have submitted their application to bring own vessels. The IWAI is also getting applications from private players including global companies that want to build their own jetties. “Because of keenness shown by the private sector, this project of Rs 5,369 crore will be completed in less than Rs 4,000 crore. The government is making a saving of Rs 1,200 to Rs 1,400 crore because the private sector is coming in. Even the cruise business on the river has picked up. There were only two to three cruise vessels around five years ago on the Ganga.
India-Bangladesh rail link to be ready by 2021
Union Minister Jitendra Singh said that landmark railway line connecting the northeastern region with Bangladesh will be completed by 2021.
While briefing about some of the upcoming projects in the northeast, Singh, the Union Minister for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), said his ministry will bear the cost of laying 5.46 kms track on the Indian side while the cost of laying 10.6 kms track on the Bangladesh side is being borne by the Ministry of External Affairs. The railway link will connect Gangasagar in Bangladesh to Nischintapur in India and from Nischintapur to Agartala railway station.
Small community jetties along Ganga set to bring rare treats to distant cities
According to government estimates, almost 50% Indian population lives around the river belt in which about one-fifth of the country’s freight originates and one-third terminates.
Far off cities may soon have access to freshly plucked marigold from Kaithi in Varanasi, vegetables from Ghazipur and Munger, banana and paan (betel) from Hajipur and fruits from Bhagalpur as the government goes ahead with setting up small community jetties along the Ganga. This initiative is part of the Arth Ganga plan, which aims to boost economic activities along the holy river and benefit people living in the adjoining areas.


Oli inaugurates Kantipur Conclave with focus on Connectivity
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli used the stage of the Kantipur Conclave, whose theme this year is ‘Re-imagining Connectivity’ , to stress his administrations focus on connectivity.
“Connectivity has been the main thrust of our engagement with our neighbours,” said Oli. “We believe that multimodal connectivity with India and Trans-Himalayan Multidimensional Connectivity Network with China offer immense opportunity for our development and prosperity.” Enumerating connectivity-related projects that Nepal is currently implementing, Oli said that landlocked Nepal would soon become linked via waterways and that Nepal’s flag carriers would soon be sailing the country’s big rivers.
Nepal – Bangladesh commerce secretary level meetings kicks off
The fifth Nepal-Bangladesh commerce secretary-level meeting has kicked in Dhaka
An eight-member team led by Baikuntha Aryal, secretary at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies (MoICS), is participating in the two-day meeting. The meeting will primarily focus on bilateral trade and investment, direct bus service, cargo movement, direct flights, possible waterways connecting the two nations and easing different customs barriers.
Connectivity in South East Asian countries could serve lessons for South Asia
Massive integration and connectivity of South East Asia despite differences over the last decade should serve lessons to Nepal and South Asia.
To increase connectivity, Southeast Asian nations have taken both regional and sub-regional approach. “Mainland Southeast Asian nations created Greater Mekong Sub-regional Group, giving rise to a lot of cross border planning and dealing in the areas of customs and duties and establishment of special economic zones in bordering regions,” said Gwen Robinson, Editor of Nikkei Asia Review.
India agrees to allow Nepal to use three inland waterways
Nepal  would get access to the Kolkata-Kalughat, Raxaul; Kolkata-Sahebgunj, Biratnagar and Kolkata-Varanasi-Raxaul routes.
Nepal and India have finalized the modality for allowing Nepal to operate its cargo vessels on three inland waterways of India. In a two-day Nepal-India Transit Treaty Review meeting that concluded in Kathmandu, the southern neighbor agreed to allow operation of Nepali vessels on the Ganges River that runs parallel of Nepal’s southern border, according to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies.