By Elton Gomes
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina jointly inaugurated the construction of a friendship pipeline project via a video conference on Wednesday. Once completed, the 130-kilometre India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline Project will connect Siliguri in West Bengal and Parbatipur in Bangladesh’s Dinajpur district. The Rs 346 crore project is expected to be completed in 30 months, and its capacity will be one million metric tons per annum.
Through the Bangladesh-India Friendship Pipeline project, fuel will be supplied from Numaligarh oil refinery at Siliguri to Parbatipur Depot in Dinajpur. A 125-km-stretch of the pipeline will be in Bangladesh, while the remaining 5-km-stretch will be located in India.
The Friendship Pipeline is part of the Modi government’s efforts to set up more pipelines connecting India and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). In 2014, SAARC had decided to develop cross-border pipeline routes to ferry natural gas and products. The idea behind such a network was to build a better hydrocarbon transportation network in order to meet the rising demand for energy.
Which other projects have been launched?
On Tuesday, Modi and Hasina jointly unveiled e-plaques for the ground-breaking ceremony of two India-assisted projects. The move came after the Bangladesh cabinet approved access of Chittagong port by India’s North Eastern states, thus improving intra-regional connectivity. India has offered more than $8 billion in credit to Bangladesh – highest for any country. The extension of credit also highlights the increasing friendship between the two countries after Hasina returned to power in 2008.
Earlier, on September 10, Modi and Hasina joined Chief Ministers of West Bengal and Tripura, Mamata Banerjee and Biplab Kumar Deb, respectively, in jointly inaugurating three projects in Bangladesh, via video conference.
What did Modi say?
Modi appreciated Hasina’s vision of transforming Bangladesh into a middle-income country by 2021 and a developed country by 2041. He said that closer relations and better people to people connectivity would lead to exceptional development and prosperity in both countries.
He said that India and Bangladesh were neighbours, geographically and family, emotionally. Modi said that the Friendship Pipeline project will further energise not only Bangladesh’s economy but also relations between the two countries. He added that the project will help in fulfilling energy needs of Bangladesh at cheaper rates.
“In the last few years our cooperation has shown that when two neighbouring countries decide, a lot can be achieved—be it decades old boundary dispute or economic projects—we have achieved a lot and I give credit for this to you,” Modi said, the Financial Express reported.
A golden era for India-Bangladesh relations
In May, both prime ministers expressed strong commitment to continue the current tempo of co-operation. PM Modi addressed the inaugural ceremony of the Dhaka-sponsored “Bangladesh Bhavan” at Visva-Bharati university campus in Santiniketan, and described the current bilateral relations as “the golden chapter.” Modi noted that a consensus has been reached on several issues, which previously seemed impossible to resolve. He stressed that the remaining issues would be achieved “soon.” Modi added that India and Bangladesh are working on several issues such as coastal shipping.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius
Stay updated with all the insights.
Navigate news, 1 email day.
Subscribe to Qrius