Dhaka, Sept 18 (UNB) - Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday said she looks forward to continued support from India for the development of Bangladesh.
"I look forward to continued support from the government of India in our development pursuit. I’m quite sure we’ll get such many happy events in the days ahead for the welfare of our people," she said.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi were jointly inaugurating the construction of 130-km Bangladesh-India Friendship Pipeline between Siliguri in West Bengal and Parbatipur in Dinajpur.
They opened the work on the oil pipeline through videoconferencing.
Sheikh Hasina attended the videoconference from her official residence Ganobhaban while Narendra Modi from his office in New Delhi.
The two leaders also inaugurated the construction of the third and fourth dual gauge rail lines of Dhaka-Tongi and Tongi-Joydevpur sections of Bangladesh Railway.
Hasina said the economic development is the biggest challenge for South Asian countries. "The prospects for economic development will substantially be enhanced through undertaking bilateral projects like this," she said.
She mentioned that the bilateral cooperation between Bangladesh and India has reached a new height over the past few years.
"We’re working and will work collectively for the development and prosperity for the people of both countries in the new areas, including energy, power, road and rail communications," she said.
The Prime Minister said the people of Bangladesh and India have always been good neighbours.
She recalled the cooperation of the government of India and its people during the War of Liberation in 1971, led by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Referring to her inauguration together with Modi of the supply of 500MW electricity and two railway projects on September 10 and today’s joint projects, the Prime Minister said, "This intermittent contact between us, I believe, will further cement the ties of cooperation between Bangladesh and India."
Hasina mentioned that an excellent environment of bilateral cooperation prevails between the two neighbouring countries since she assumed office in 2009.
"The mutual cooperation between the two countries enhanced many folds in the fields of security, power and energy, trade, communication, infrastructure development, environment, renewable energy, education, culture, people-to-people contact and health during the last nine and a half years," she said.
Hasina said the train communication in the south-western region through Padma Bridge and in the northern region through Bangabandhu Jamuna Bridge, and on Chattogram-Sylhet routes from Dhaka will be easier and faster once the work on the 3rd and 4th Dual Gauge Line on Dhaka-Tongi section and Double Line on Dhaka-Joydevpur section is completed.
She also mentioned that a total of 96 kms of dual-gauge tracks along with other necessary infrastructures will be constructed under the project that stretches from Kamalapur to Joydevpur railway station.
About the pipeline, the Prime Minister said the 130-km India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline from Shiliguri to Parbatipur in Bangladesh is a new milestone in the history of cooperation between the two countries.
"This will be the first such pipeline through which refined diesel will be supplied to Parbatipur depot from Numaligarh of Assam in India," she said.
The Prime Minister mentioned that Bangladesh will initially receive 2.5 lakh tonnes of diesel per annum and it will gradually be increased to 4 lakh tonnes.
She also said the first consignment of diesel from India reached Bangladesh in March 2016 through rail wagons.
Hasina expressed her gratitude to her Indian counterpart for his active role in implementing these projects.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the two countries implemented a number of projects within a short time which are the symbols of good relations between the two countries.
"We’re not only neighbours, we’re also a family. We always extend our hands in our happiness and sorrow. We’ve proved that we could solve problems if we wish,” he said.
Modi said these projects have initiated a new chapter in the bilateral relations between Bangladesh and India. "It’ll play a significant role in Bangladesh's development as fuel oil could be supplied to the northern region at a low cost," he said.
About the railway projects, he said the schemes will not only help carry passengers, but also transport goods.
Highly appreciating Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's leadership, the Indian PM said these projects could not be implemented without her dynamic leadership.
"These projects are very important for people-to-people contact between the two countries. I hope such cooperation between Bangladesh and India will continue," he said.
During their speeches, the two Prime Ministers greeted each other on the occasion of their birthdays.
The birthday of Modi was celebrated on September 17 while that of Sheikh Hasina will be celebrated on September 28.
Currently, imported oil is stored in Chattogram depot after unloading it from the ship at Chattogram Port. Later, the oil is brought to Khulna Doulatpur depot through coastal tanks and carried to Parbatipur again through rail wagons.
This requires additional time and money as well as transport. The pipeline will solve these problems.
Through the cross-border pipeline, India will supply fuel oil from its Numaligarh Refinery Ltd (NRL), located at Golaghat in the northeastern state of Assam, while Bangladesh will receive the oil at Parbatipur depot of Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) in Dinajpur. India will supply 2.5 lakh tonnes of diesel in the first three years.
The import of fuel through the pipeline will be raised further as per the requirements of Bangladesh. The NRL will distribute diesel for 15 years through the pipeline and the time could be expanded following the consent of both sides.
To implement the construction work on the two rail projects, over Tk 1,106 crore under Indian Line of Credit (LoC) would be spent.
Under the two projects, 48.80 kms of two new dual gauge rail lines would be constructed on Dhaka-Tongi route, while a 12.28-km new dual gauge railway double line on Tongi-Joydevpur route, in parallel with the existing rail tracks.
On completion of the schemes, rail communication of Gazipur, Tangail, Narsingdi, Brahmanbaria, Cumilla, Mymensingh and Jamalpur with Dhaka will improve.
As a result, the travel time will be reduced on these routes, while trains can run maintaining schedule set by the railway authorities.
Bangladesh's Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushama Swaraj and Indian Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Prodhan also spoke on the occasion.