Act East and Neighbourhood First: Bilateral meet with President of Bangladesh with PM Modi on Friday

Despite the hectic schedule of hosting heads of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) member states, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have a special meeting with the visiting Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid. The bilateral level talks between the two leaders will take place at Hyderabad House day after the swearing-in. In his second term, Prime Minister Modi is expected to give a boost to Act East policy and connectivity with the countries in the neighborhood. Major connectivity projects are in different stages of completion, which will help in cross border trade and economic activities. On the proposed meeting with the President Hamid of Bangladesh, sharing his views with Financial Express Online, Gautam Lahiri, a senior journalist and Bangladesh expert says, Though dates are still in the process of being finalized, PM Modi is likely to travel to the Maldives on the same day. Prime Minister Hasina of Bangladesh decided to send the president of her country for the ceremony is indicative of the importance the countries give to their bilateral strategic relationship, he adds. The Indian government has already given approval for the 150 metre long 4-lane bridge which would connect Tripura with Chittagong port in Bangladesh, and is only 70 km away from the Indo-Bangla border. This is expected to play an important role in the proposed economic corridor through India, China, and Myanmar, scheduled to be completed by March 2020. Indian officials have clarified that it is not included in China Approval has given approval to Tripura Government Recently, High commissioner of India Riva Das Ganguly visited Agartala and discussed with the Tripura Chief Minister Biplob Dev about this project. The project would be implemented by Land Port Authority of India in the lines of Akhaura Integrated check-post which was set up in 2013, Over the last few years efforts to provide access of Chittagong Port to North Eastern Indian states has picked momentum. A bridge is being built on Feni River, which divides India and Bangladesh on the southernmost tip of Tripura with an estimated expenditure of Rs 73 crores. What is Agartala-Akhaura check post? It is the second-largest trading point between India and Bangladesh. In 2018, it was decided that it will have more facilities including a cafeteria, boating facilities as well as a visitor gallery. The border posts will be based on Wagah border with Pakistan and will be developed by the Ministry of Tourism. The Centre has already sanctioned Rs 99 crore for the project and will be implemented by the government of Tripura. A 12.03 km long railway line to connect Agartala with Akhaura in Bangladesh is in the pipeline and will be completed by 2020. Of the total line, 5.46 km will be in India and 6.57 km will be in Bangladesh.