Quarterly Newsletter
Issue #10, April-June, 2022


How modernisation of Land Ports has been a game changer in India’s cross-border trade |  01.05.22
In the financial year 2021-22, India achieved a milestone of crossing $ 1 trillion worth of trade. Our land ports have played a major role for this achievement. The Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) house various facilities such as customs, immigration, border security, and quarantine, among others, within a single facilitation zone. While ICPs are facilitating India’s cross-border with its neighbours, it is necessary to address some existing challenges for furthering the ease of doing trade across borders. 

Bridges of Peace: The case of Pithoragarh and Nepal | 29.04.22
The bordering districts of India and Nepal share close cultural and traditional relationships nurtured by the communities on both sides that depend on each other for their livelihoods. Pithoragarh district in Uttarakhand, India holds an important place in respect to cross-border trade (formal and informal) between India and Nepal. There are five suspension footbridges in Pithoragarh that connect India and Nepal at different places over the Mahakali River, viz. Dharchula, Jauljibi, Jhulaghat, Balakot and Daura.

High time for a Framework Agreement to further BIMSTEC connectivity | 20.04.22
At the recently concluded Colombo Summit, the leaders of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) group of countries adopted a Master Plan for Transport Connectivity. Now, we need a framework for its operationalisation. An important element in building a regional community is trust. Initiatives towards connectivity promotion do strengthen trust and thus can lead to increased trade and investment as well as tourism and other people-to-people contacts.
Direct air connectivity with Dhaka set to boost medical tourism in Hyderabad
The two hours forty-five minutes flight will operate between GMR Hyderabad International Airport and Dhaka twice a week - Saturday and Monday
The Hyderabad international airport has added yet another international destination to its portfolio with the launch of Indigo's direct flight service from Hyderabad to Dhaka on Monday. Apart from boosting tourism and leisure travel between Bangladesh and Telangana, the direct flights are expected to give a fillip to medical travel to Hyderabad. As per data released by the Indian tourism ministry, about 54 per cent of all international medical visitors to India for treatment are from Bangladesh.
Border Bandwidth: N-E states e-connect with the world via Bangladesh
After India developed waterways, railway and road connectivity between the Northeast region and the rest of the country and the world via Bangladesh, New Delhi recently connected the land-locked region with the remaining parts of the country and the world through telecommunications via the neighbouring country.

To make available high-quality and high-speed internet access to the North-eastern states of India, the state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has recently commissioned additional international bandwidth for internet connectivity through Cox’s Bazar in Southeast Bangladesh. This will also facilitate the reduction of latency and congestion in internet traffic to and from the region.
Indo-Bangla railway connectivity project from Agartala will be complete by December 2022: MoS Raosaheb Danve 
The project, which was scheduled to be completed by December 2020, was delayed due to land acquisition issues and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Union Minister of State for Railways Raosaheb Patil Danve said that the work for the Agartala-Akhaura international rail connectivity with Bangladesh would be complete within December this year. The project, scheduled to be completed by December 2020, was delayed due to land acquisition issues and the Covid-19 pandemic. He emphasised completing works on the schedule for the second India-Bangladesh international railway project at Sabroom as his government has plans to build a multi-modal transit hub at Sabroom.
Bangladesh opens its longest bridge, bringing India closer 
The nearly 6.2 km road-rail four-lane bridge over the mighty Padma river is expected to directly impact the lives of at least 30 million people of the country, according to the government's estimates.

Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the long-awaited Padma Bridge, the country's biggest development project since its birth in 1971, that is expected to give the nation's development index a big boost and connect India directly to Dhaka, through road, rail and ports. The inauguration of the Padma Bridge carries a lot of significance as the structure was built entirely with domestic financing.
India-Bhutan can leverage connectivity via Brahmaputra for furthering economic ties: Sarbananda Sonowal 
Union Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal held a dialogue with a team from Bhutan and said National Waterways 2 (Brahmaputra river) connectivity can be leveraged by both countries for improved economic ties.
Sonowal said the PM Narendra Modi Ji's visionary Act East policy had added new momentum to trade and socio-cultural movement between the two nations. Speaking about the huge opportunities offered by the Multi-Modal Logistics Park (MMLP) in Jogighopa and the gateway in Dhubri, the Union Minister stated that India's advantage in providing infra support and low cost logistics can bring a new era of development for the neighbouring country.
Bangladesh-Bhutan PTA effective from 1 July
The Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) signed between Bangladesh and Bhutan will be effective from the next financial year, said officials privy to the matter.
The Bhutanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has requested Bangladesh to make it effective from 1 July as all the processes including approval have been completed in the Bhutanese Parliament. Under the PTA, 10 Bangladeshi products, including readymade garments, will get duty free access to the Bhutanese market, while 16 Bhutanese items will get the same preference in the Bangladesh market.
Bhutan wants to finalise 2017's transit deal to use Mongla, Banglabandha ports 
Bhutan wants Bangladesh to make 2017's transit route deal functional soon so that the landlocked country can use Mongla and Banglabandha ports to carry goods from and to Bangladesh through India.
Bhutan has been showing interest to do trade with Bangladesh. Bangladesh signed the first PTA with Bhutan as a gesture of friendliness. Bangladesh and Bhutan agreed for transit in 2017 for using the Mongla and Banglabandha ports but some protocols need to be corrected for making the agreement functional. This time it is expected that the protocols would be finalised for making the agreement functional.
Train link between Assam and Bhutan
The news about the Ministry of Railways sanctioning a preliminary engineering-cum-technical survey for a rail link between Kokrajhar and Gelephu has revived the talk of a direct rail link between Assam and Bhutan.

If constructed, the rail link will go a long way in improving trade, commerce, and tourism between two landlocked regions, besides deepening bilateral relations between India and Bhutan. The survey will be carried out for a 57.7-km trans-boundary railway line connecting Kokrajhar in Assam and Gelephu in Bhutan and cover all the aspects of climate change impact that will be vital for the sustainability of the proposed connectivity project.
Multimodal transport hub to be developed in Tripura’s Sabroom: Union minister 
Union Minister Raosaheb Patil Danve announced that a multimodal transport hub will be developed in South Tripura’s Sabroom, which shares an international border with Bangladesh.
The proposed project will be developed under the PM Gati Shakti scheme and will have rail, road, water and air connectivity at Sabroom, which is only 70 km from Chittagong port in the neighbouring country. This scheme aims at boosting economic growth through infrastructure building. The proposed multimodal transport hub will reduce the travelling time between West Bengal’s Kolkata and Agartala drastically.
Air, rail, road connectivity boost in Northeast! Centre executing projects worth Rs 1,34,200 crore, says FM
The Union Minister said the Centre is implementing various rail, road and air connectivity projects in Northeast India worth Rs 1,34,200 crore. The central government is also developing 4,000 kilometres of roads in the region at a cost of Rs 58,000 crore.
The central government is laying emphasis on infrastructure as well as connectivity development in the North-eastern region of India. It is implementing various rail, road and air connectivity projects in Northeast India worth Rs 1,34,200 crore. At present, there are 15 ongoing projects for air connectivity in the northeastern region, costing nearly Rs 2,200 crore, and the number of India-Bangladesh Protocol Routes has been increased to 10 from the existing eight.
Railways to build 100 cargo terminals to facilitate multi-model infra 
For easier connectivity with roads and ports, the Ministry of Railways will soon be creating 100 cargo terminals following an approach towards multimodal infrastructure.
In the 20th meeting of the Network Planning Group (NPG), it was highlighted that all 36 States and UTs have been integrated into the GatiShakti Sanchar portal. The NPG members were requested to maintain periodic engagement with the BISAG-N and regular project updates in the portal. Members were also advised to regularise planning and project mapping through the portal. Through the NPG, all eight infrastructure Ministries/Departments are taking up integrated planning, synchronised implementation and consolidated decisions.
Shipping Minister sets target of zero wait time at major ports
The waiting time at India’s major ports is supposed to drastically come down according to the targets set by Shipping Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.

To propel India’s Blue Economy, there should be zero waiting time for inbound and outbound cargo. This means there should be zero waiting for ships as well as for trucks carrying cargo. This will require bringing down the current wait time of around a day for berthing at India’s major ports to zero. Therefore, the focus should be on public-private partnership (PPP) projects in greenfield port development to ease up government resources.
From power trade to rail connectivity – India, Nepal work to revamp ties after map row
Two years after India-Nepal bilateral ties took a major hit with Kathmandu redrawing its boundaries, PM Modi and Nepal PM Sher Bahadur Deuba, made a move towards ironing out differences by announcing a plethora of development projects.
From cross-border rail connectivity to creating electricity trade corridors, India and Nepal sought to smoothen the relationship, which faces several challenges at the moment, from border issues to a growing Chinese footprint in the Himalayan state. During the bilateral summit, the two sides launched an India-Nepal Joint Vision Statement on Power Sector Cooperation. According to the power sector vision document, recent cross-border electricity trade regulations have enabled Nepal to access the Indian market and trade power with India.
Nepal and Bhutan hold virtual trade talks
Nepal and Bhutan held the fourth round of trade talks through virtual means to expedite the bilateral trade and cooperation between the two countries.

According to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, both the countries agreed to revise the lists of goods under the preferential treatment in the meeting. The meeting also focused on the issues related to the certificate of origin. Bhutan has been pressing Nepal to sign a bilateral trade agreement. So far, Nepal has signed bilateral trade agreements and treaties with 17 countries.
Prospects rising for electricity trade between Nepal and Bangladesh 
Dhaka’s offer to sell energy to Nepal when it faces a deficit and buy Nepali surplus electricity during the wet season could be a win-win for both countries.
Prospects of energy trade between Nepal and Bangladesh are growing. Dhaka recently proposed power trade between Nepal and Bangladesh in a way that suits the interest of both countries. As per the Joint Vision Statement on Power Sector Cooperation issued in early April, India and Nepal aim to expand cooperation in the power sector to include their partner countries under the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) framework, subject to mutually agreed terms and conditions between all involved parties.
Nepal PM Sher Bahadur Deuba urges India to provide additional air routes
Nepalese PM Sher Bahadur Deuba has requested India to provide additional air routes from Mahendranagar, Nepalgunj and Janakpur to facilitate connectivity and travel between the two countries.

Nepalese Prime Minister requested additional air routes in order to facilitate connectivity and travel between the two countries in view of the fact that the second international airport - Gautam Buddha International Airport - was brought into commercial operation in Bhairahawa starting from May 16. He also called for investment proposals from companies interested in India to develop the 750 MW West Seti Hydropower Project.
Disclaimer: This newsletter has been curated through third-party sources for information only. CUTS is not responsible for the content of such third-party sources
Copyright © 2022 CUTS International, All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is:
Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS)
D–217, Bhaskar Marg, Bani Park, Jaipur 302016, Rajasthan, India