A large number of Bangladeshis want to visit Nepal and Bhutan through Indian territory, the foreign ministry of Bangladesh has told the Indian delegation accompanying Prime Minister Narendra Modi, handing over to India a list of some new routes for which New Delhi’s approval is required.
The issue was discussed during a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina Wazed, Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told reporters at a press conference after the meeting.
Emerging from the meeting, the Bangladesh foreign minister said at a press conference organised inside a hotel in Dhaka that if the initiative were to be sanctioned by India, the distance, time and cost of transporting goods from Bangladesh to Nepal would be greatly reduced and Bangladesh’s export capacity would increase.
Bangladesh has informed India of its interest in establishing rail connectivity with Bhutan using the newly inaugurated Chilahati-Haldibari rail route among other routes for other modes of transport.
Meanwhile, a new passenger train Mitali Express between Bangladesh and India has been inaugurated. Visiting Prime Minister Modi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the train jointly at 6:36 PM today. This was announced from the Bangladesh Prime Minister’s Office in Dhaka’s Tejgaon area via video conference.
Bangladesh Railway Minister Nurul Islam Sujan, among others, participated in the function from that country’s PMO. Their Director General of Railways Dhirendra Nath Majumder and other senior officials were present at the Dhaka Cantonment Station.
The new inter-country passenger train was launched on the occasion of the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (the current prime minister’s late father). It happened to be the golden jubilee year of independence of Bangladesh. However, after the inauguration today, the train did not ply in consideration of the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19).
The train will ply between Dhaka Cantonment and New Jalpaiguri in West Bengal as per schedule if the Covid-19 situation in the two countries improves and the Indian tourist visa service is introduced.
The train will go from Dhaka Cantonment to New Jalpaiguri in India via Chilahati. The distance from Dhaka to Chilahati is 453 km and from Chilahati to New Jalpaiguri, it’s 71 km.
For the time being, the Indian Railways will run the train two days a week while the other two will be the responsibility of Bangladesh. It will ply between New Jalpaiguri and Dhaka Cantonment on Mondays and Thursdays and between Dhaka Cantonment and New Jalpaiguri on Sunday and Wednesday.
The train has a total of 10 coaches including four AC cabins, four AC chairs and two power car brake vans.
The Mitali Express train fare for the AC cabin (berth) is Bangladeshi Taka 4,905. for an AC seat, Taka 3,805 and for an AC chair, Taka 2,705. VAT and travel tax will be added to this fare. A taka of Bangladesh is equivalent to about 86 p of the Indian rupee.