Bangladesh thanks India for providing 10 broad gauge diesel locomotives

 Bangladesh on Monday thanked India for providing 10 broad gauge diesel locomotives, with its Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen saying it would help bring both sides even closer and further take the "rock-solid" bilateral relations to new heights.

"This would help bring our two peoples even closer," the foreign minister said at the handing over ceremony of locomotives which was conducted online in view of the coronavirus pandemic.

Momen thanked India for offering Bangladesh the diesel locomotives as a mark of enduring friendship. Indian railway authorities handed over the locomotives at Darshana-Gede Interchange Point of Bangladesh's western border with India.

India provided the locomotives under its grant assistance programme which it committed during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to New Delhi in October 2019 and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's renewed focus on "neighbourhood first" policy.

Momen said over the past few years India and Bangladesh scripted a golden chapter in partnership under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.

Bangladesh Railway Minister Md. Nurul Islam Sujan and Foreign Minister Momen, Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Muhammad Imran and Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das attended the online ceremony. From Indian side, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal attended the event.

"We are indeed enjoying the best of relations," Momen said, mentioning that last 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 through Bangladesh’s Chittagong 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," Momen said.

"I am sure we would be able to further lift our relations to new heights in the coming days," he said.

Jaishankar reciprocated Momen, saying, "very few countries in the world share such close fraternal ties as ours".

"Our partnership today stands out as a role model in the region for good neighbourly relations," he added.

Connectivity in the region will unpack numerous opportunities for the people of South Asia, said Momen.

Officials in New Delhi said all locos have residual life of 28 years or more and they are designed for speed of up to 120 km per hour.

In the recent times, India and Bangladesh have stepped up cooperation between their railways in mitigating the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic as trade via land border faced disruptions.

Officials familiar with the cross-border trade communications said the two neighbours saw the highest ever exchange of freight trains in June as a total of 103 freight trains were utilized for carrying essential commodities and raw materials.

Bangladesh and India have a total of 8 railway interchange points, of which 4 are now functioning - Petrapole (India)-Benapole (Bangladesh), Gede (India)-Darshana (Bangladesh), Singhabad (India)- Rohanpur (Bangladesh) and Radhikapur (India)-Birol (Bangladesh).

But officials said works were underway to resume immediate operations in one of four non-operational points, Chilahati-Haldibari route to establish railway connectivity with Bhutan through India.

Bangladesh railway officials suggest reopening of another non-functional route -- Darshana-Khulna-Mongla railway link -- to reestablish the shortest path to connect Nepal, Bhutan and northwest India. 
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