Bangladesh keen on joint ventures with India: Hasina

Agartala, Jan 12 (IANS) Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Thursday express her readiness to set up joint ventures, including power plants, in India and to boost trade and business with India, Nepal and Bhutan.

“It is not so hard to solve unresolved issues including (those of) water management. Bangladesh is ready to allow its ports and other infrastructure to India, Nepal and Bhutan to further broaden the trade and economy of the region,” Hasina said at a mammoth gathering here.
“Despite opposition by political parties, my government has agreed to start a new rail link between Akhaurah (Bangladesh) and Agartala (India), build a bridge over river Feni in Tripura to establish a new surface link between the two countries and set up several customs stations.”
Amid prolonged applause, the prime minister announced that her government had decided to set up four ‘haats’ (markets) along the India-Bangladesh border with Tripura to encourage trade and business.
Accompanied by an over 100-member delegation, including Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, several MPs and business leaders, Hasina, who arrived here Wednesday on a two-day visit, left Agartala Thursday evening for Dhaka.
She said that physical connectivity with countries in South Asia and beyond had become a major drive of her Awami League government.
“Without an excellent network of connectivity of roads, railways, waterways and close people-to-people contacts, regional prosperity and economic development cannot be possible.”
She urged the Tripura and Indian governments to provide electricity to Bangladesh.
Earlier, Hasina received a honorary doctorate degree, conferred by the Tripura Central University at the varsity’s ninth convocation.
While speaking at the convocation and at the public gathering, the 64-year-old Bangladesh leader becomes emotional. She got a standing ovation and frequent rounds of applause at both places.
Deviating from her written text, she narrated how India, specially the central government and Tripura, extended all out help during the 1971 war which led to the emergence of Bangladesh.
“Lakhs of people took shelter in Tripura and other (Indian) states. People of these states not only gave refuge to Bangladeshis but helped by giving training and other logistical support to the liberation war,” Hasina said.
She said she was profoundly grateful to India and Indians.
“Through the ninth months of our liberation war, the people of Tripura and India stood by our side by sharing their food, shelter and other basic necessities,” she said, and lauded the role of the late Indira Gandhi, who was the Indian prime minister then.
“After my father’s (Sheikh Mujibur Rahman) assassination along with 18 family members Aug 15, 1975, I and my sister Sheikh Rehana took shelter in Tripura for several months,” Hasina said.
Over 60 thousand men and women packed the Assam Rifles ground here Thursday and were massed on both sides of the roads for a glimpse of the prime minister.
Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar told the public gathering that the state government would supply 100 mw of electricity to Bangladesh.
“Not only in trade and business, India and Bangladesh should undertake more mutual programmes in education, sports and culture,” he said.