Last week, Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Sheikh Hasina, and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, flagged off the Kolkata-Khulna Bandhan Express, to follow in the tracks of the erstwhile Barisal Express, which was stopped during the 1965 war with Pakistan.
The weekly service, which will start rolling on Thursday, will cross the international border at Petrapol outside Bongaon in North 24-Parganas district, and will be the second train to Bangladesh after the Kolkata-Dhaka Maitree Express.
BUS ROUTES –
- Agartala-Dhaka-Kolkata, 910 km
- Service on the 490 km Agartala-Dhaka route began in September 2003, and ran irregularly until January 2015, when it was stopped for security reasons.
- Service was restarted in May 2015 on an extended Agartala-Dhaka-Kolkata route (910 km).
- Guwahati-Shillong-Dhaka, 450 km
- Formally inaugurated in December 2015, but service did not continue.
TRAIN ROUTS –
- Kolkata-Dhaka Maitree Express –
- Re-established in 2008, the 375 km route crossing the border at Gede on the Indian side and Darshana on the Bangladesh side.
- The Maitree Express runs six days a week, and was, until the November 9 inauguration of the Bandhan Express, the only rail link with Bangladesh.
- Agartala-Dhaka service –
- A 15-km line between Agartala and Akhaura being built by the Indian Railways is set for completion by the end of 2018.
- It will make a 37-hour journey of Agartala-Dhaka-Kolkata train possible in less than a third of this time.
- Siliguri-Parbatipur link –
- A line links Siliguri in North Bengal to Parbatipur in northern Bangladesh, by which India sent a 42-wagon consignment of high speed diesel manufactured by Numaligarh Refinery in Assam in March 2017.
- But there is no regular goods train movement on this route, and passenger services are unlikely soon, given trans-border crimes and infiltration in the North Bengal sector.
BOAT ROUTES –
- Kolkata-Dibrugarh waterway through Dhaka and Guwahati, started in 1844 by the East India Company and shut after the 1965 war, was recently reopened.
- Cargo vessels have been occasionally plying through Bangladesh under a Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade.
- Heavy machinery and equipment for the Numaligarh refinery and Lower Subansiri hydroelectric project in Arunachal Pradesh have been transported by this route.
ROAD ROUTES –
Kolkata-Dhaka-Northeast seamless cargo –
In November 2015, seamless road cargo transport between Kolkata and Agartala through Bangladesh was tried out successfully under the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA). Regular services are yet to start.
India and Bangladesh are trying to maximise the potential of trade and people-to-people contact via seamless connectivity. It is also in the interests of our Northeast region as cooperation between these two countries would act as a boon for the region which is otherwise dependent on Siliguri corridor. Let us look at the initiatives taken by India and Bangladesh Governments to improve connectivity via bus, train, boat and road links.
Q- What are the connectivity routes between India and Bangladesh? Are they all operational? What does it mean for our Northeast region?