Hon’ble Minister for External Affairs of India,
Hon'ble Minister for Railways of India,
Hon’ble Minister for Railways of Bangladesh,
Secretary, Ministry of Railways of Bangladesh,
Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Muhammad Imran,
Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Ms. Riva Ganguly Das
Representatives and Officials of the Bangladesh and the Indian Railways in Dhaka/Darshana and New Delhi/Gede,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As salamu alaikum and Good Afternoon!
I am delighted to be with you all, and join my colleagues in extending a special thanks to India for offering us 10 Broad Gauge diesel locomotives as a mark of enduring friendship. This is in line with the commitment by New Delhi during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India last October and renewed focus on ”neighborhood first” policy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This would help bring our two peoples even closer.
We are indeed enjoying the best of relations. This week, for the first time, 50 containers loaded with FMCG cargoes and fabrics arrived in Bangladesh from India through Benapole-Petrapole rail link. Last week, the first transshipment of goods (iron and pulses) from Kolkata to India’s North-East took place though Bangladesh’s Chattogram port.
India-Bangladesh relationship is rock solid and is based on shared values, principles and confidence; touching almost every sphere of our lives, including politics, culture, trade, investment, water, energy, power, transportation, logistics, security and much more. I am sure we would be able to further lift our relations to new heights in the coming days.
We believe “connectivity is productivity” and our visionary Prime Minister has been trying to expand our connectivity in roads, rail, river routes and heart to heart with our neighbors.
In fact, robust railway connectivity is an enabler of connectivity, an enabler of economic growth, a platform for uniform development and a catalyst for national integration. Its bulk capacity to traverse long distances with ease and lower unit costs, is further bolstered by safety and dependability.
In a fast changing world, swept by unforeseen challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic, we cannot take a piecemeal view of the contours of connectivity. Though it is defined as the seamless mobility of people, goods, capital, technology and ideas across frontiers, connectivity means more than what meets the eye. It encompasses a variety of parameters: compatibility, harmonization of standards, customs and immigration, sociocultural norms, environmental concerns, and so on. When transport systems are efficient, they yield positive multiplier effects, such as, access to broader market bases, employment generation and rolling-out investments.
Conversely, a low performing railway system can compound the burden on citizens. Climate-smart, energy efficient, and automated railways is a mainstay of current development paradigm, which seeks to maximize benefit and optimize resources.
The Government of Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has put a premium on quality transport infrastructure to facilitate regional connectivity. The pace of the ongoing fast-track projects in this sector in Bangladesh speaks volumes about this policy. Let me cite few such projects. Bangladesh and India have a total of 8 railway interchange points, of which 4 are now functioning. Of those 4 non-operational points, Chilahati-Haldibari route – currently being revamped by the two countries – will establish rail connectivity with Bhutan through India. Darshana-Khulna-Mongla rail link will provide the shortest path to connect Nepal, Bhutan and North West India. Padma rail link will constitute a vital segment of multimodal regional connectivity.
Bangladesh is also very much part of the UN ESCAP Trans-Asian Railway network, SAARC railway corridors, SASEC railway corridor and BCIM Economic Corridor. As we stretch our eyes to capture the bigger picture on this vast canvas, we will pursue the path of shared prosperity through planned and sustainable development of our transport infrastructure – a network that would reach out to the farthest corners of the country, live up to the people’s expectations, and be able to cater to their needs. Connectivity in the region will unpack numerous opportunities for the people of South Asia. No longer do they deserve a substandard living. The resulting benefits of connectivity ought to permeate all strata of the society as fairly as possible. The prospect remains limitless. We are happy that India partners with Bangladesh in this endeavour.
Over the last few years, India and Bangladesh have scripted a golden chapter in partnership under the visionary leadership of Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi. They have pledged on the noble vision of inclusive socioeconomic development. Let us deliver on that promise and hope for the best.
Thank you everyone.
Joy Bangla, Joy Bangabandhu.
Long live Bangladesh-India friendship.