Tripura transport minister Pranajit Singha Roy on Saturday stressed the importance of extending connectivity with Bangladesh during an event named ‘Chintan Shivir’, held at Prajna Bhavan here to prepare a ‘comprehensive roadmap’ for development of the state with Niti Ayog.
Speaking on the second day of the event, transport minister Pranajit Singha Roy said that partition caused Tripura to become landlocked on three sides with only one corridor through Assam and West Bengal to the mainland of India.
“People of Tripura had the opportunity to have a meter gauge rail service to Bangladesh to reach Eastern India during the Pre-Independence days. But after the partition, the entire rail track came under Bangladesh which geographically crippled Tripura from three sides by 856 Km. Tripura got landlocked with only one corridor with Assam and Silchar to West Bengal as a link to the mainland. As a result, people of Tripura had to travel 645 Km to reach Kolkata, thus it became isolated from mainland India”, the minister said.
He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the union railway minister has fulfilled the long-cherished aspiration of Tripura by providing broad-gauge railway services in 2016.
“Presently, there are multiple express trains connecting Guwahati, New Delhi, Kolkata, Deogarh. In near future, we will have direct trains to Mumbai, Chennai etc. Along with express services, people of Tripura can now boast of local trains from Agartala to Dharmanagar (North Tripura) and Agartala to Shantirbazaar (South Tripura) which will be extended to Sabroom in near future”, Singha Roy said.
However, the minister laid stress on using international connectivity with Bangladesh to turn the tables for the geographical bottleneck of Tripura.
“Work of Agartala-Akhaura railway project is in full swing. It is expected to be completed in 2020…. The expansion of MBB Airport into an international airport is under process. Very soon, international flights to South East Asian nations will commence”, he said.
Pranajit also said Tripura’s BJP-IPFT government has taken initiative to introduce inland waterways transport by connecting Gomati and Howrah river with their counterparts (River Meghna) in Bangladesh. Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb raised the issue with Union Minister Nitin Gadkari last month at New Delhi.
On the issue, transport minister Pranajit Singha Roy said Saturday that the Union secretary of Shipping has conducted a visit to the state to assess ground situation and feasibility of inland water transport in the state. “Once the DPR is finalized, the inland water transport will become a reality”, he said.