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Haldibari Chilhati Rail Link: A revival of India Bangladesh bilateral relations

Tulika Tandon

India and Bangladesh have decided to revive and operationalise the six rail links that were functional between them before 1965. On December 17, 2020, the Haldibari- Chilhati rail link was again given a green signal.

With its inauguration, five out of six rail links are now operational. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh also discussed cooperation in the areas of ICT and Artificial Intelligence.

History

  1. The rail link of Haldibari and Chilhati was part of the Broad Gauge main route from Kolkata to Siliguri.
  2. It was after the war of 1965, that the railway links were cut off effectively.

Significance:

  1. The Haldibari-Chilahati route would be helpful to enhance the connectivity between Assam and West Bengal from Bangladesh. 
  2. It would also support the growth in bilateral trade and economic development of the region and would be effective in controlling cross border smuggling. 
  3. India had committed to Bangladesh in 2019 and has handed over ten Broad Gauge locomotives in July 2020.
  4. Bangladesh is an important neighbour of India and their relations have transcended even strategic partnership. Both work towards restoring and developing connectivity links for the benefit of the general population on both sides.
  5. Both countries are listed among the fastest-growing economies in South Asia and by 2024 Bangladesh would be rising from the LDC status to a developing country. The GDP per capita is also projected to rise fast in the coming years.

Future perspective:

  1. This railway line would be a connection between two emerging markets and would benefit cross border trade leaps and bounds.
  2. Major advances have been made in the connectivity of railway, ports, and inland waterways and are expected to be taken forward.

Other Initiatives between India and Bangladesh

  1. The two countries have a long-standing Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade (PIWTT). It was first signed in 1972. The protocol was after long renewed in 2015. It now has a provision for an automatic renewal for the next five years.
  2. The second Addendum to PIWTT was signed by both sides on May 20, 2020. Now two more new routes to India have been added viz; Sonamura to Daudkandi and Daudkandi to Sonamura.

Way Forward:

By 2022, the Karimganj-Mahisashan rail link connecting to Assam would become operational. Also, a new rail link between Akhaura (Bangladesh) and Agartala(Tripura) is being financed by  India, which would be operational by end 2021. The railway line connectivity would although be a boon for traders but India would have to follow stricter cross border checks now to control the insurgencies. 

One Nation One Grid Energy Initiative: Know all about it here

 

FAQ

How many rail routes are planned between India and Bangladesh?

India and Bangladesh have planned 5 more railway links. Four are left to be activated. Total rail routes are six in number.

Who is the Prime Minister of Bangladesh?

Sheikh Hasina is the current prime minister of Bangladesh

Why was the Chilahati Haldibari link inactive

After the East Bangladesh war in 1965 the rail routes were closed. Haldibari Chilahati rail link was also closed due to war.

After how many years has the Chilahati Haldibari link restored?

The link has been inactive since 1965. Now it has been 55 years since the link has been restored.

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