Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the Agartala-Akhaura rail link project virtually. This cross-border initiative aims to strengthen business ties and provide direct access between India’s landlocked northeastern region and the Chittagong port in Bangladesh.
Execution and Timeline
- The project is executed by IRCON, a CPSE of Railways, on the Indian side, and it serves as the Project Management Consultant (PMC) for Bangladesh Railways.
- Originally scheduled for completion in 2020, the project faced delays due to various reasons.
- On October 30, a trial run was conducted on the Akhaura-Agartala rail route, with a locomotive engine pulling four wagons crossing into Tripura from the border.
- The Border Security Force (BSF) personnel conducted screening before the train entered the Indian side near Nischintapur, Agartala.
Distance and Travel Time
- Once operational, the rail link will reduce the rail journey from Kolkata to Agartala (via Guwahati) from 31 hours and 1500 km to just 10 hours and 500 km.
- The estimated cost for the Indian portion of the project is Rs 862.58 crore, with the national transporter allocating Rs 153.84 crore from its budget to expedite the work.
- In Bangladesh, the cost of constructing 6.78 kilometers of railway is approximately Taka 241 crore, according to the Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha.
- The project traces its origins to the agreement between India and Bangladesh during Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to New Delhi in January 2010.
- Construction of the 15.064-km-long railway line began in 2018, with 5.05 km in India and the remaining 10.014 km in Bangladesh.
- The Agartala-Akhaura railway link holds substantial significance, as it is expected to enhance bilateral relations, tourism, trade, and cultural exchanges between India and Bangladesh.
- It will promote the growth of small-scale industries in the border area and boost tourism in the northeastern region of India.
- Additionally, it will expedite the export and import of commodities, enabling local producers to reach international markets more efficiently.
- The project is in alignment with Prime Minister Modi’s ‘Act East Policy,’ emphasizing connectivity and cooperation in the eastern region.