Prasanta J Baruah
DHAKA, Sept 7 – Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh today termed effective management of the Indo-Bangla border as the biggest challenge in developing bilateral relations between the two countries.
Addressing the faculty and students of Dhaka University here this morning , the Indian Prime Minister on the concluding day of his two-day visit said that the first step is to create a defined and peaceful boundary that will provide a stable and peaceful environment for cross-border cooperation.
He said the protocol signed yesterday would resolve the issues of the enclaves, areas under adverse possession and unde marcated areas.This will be done without dislocating people living in the border areas, he said.
“We have now put in place mechanisms which we hope will greatly reduce the scope for violent incidents on the border and strengthen trust and goodwill among the border guarding forces and people living in the border areas," Dr Singh added.
Describing water as a sensitive subject for both the countries, he said the Ganga Water Treaty signed in 1996 was one such example which has stood the test of time. “I was hopeful that during this visit we would be able to come to an agreement on the sharing of the waters of the Teesta river. Unfortunately, these efforts did not meet with success within the time available, ”he said.
Pointing to the Tipaimukh dam project in India, the Prime Minister assured that India will not take any steps that will adversely affect Bangladesh.
The Prime Minister said that both countries were making efforts to improve border infrastructure, particularly the land custom stations. “New integrated check posts are coming up at Petrapole in West Bengal,Agartala in Tripura and Dawki in Meghalaya.The border haat at Kalaichar-Baliamari in Meghalaya has been opened and procedures for movement of trucks from Bhutan and Nepal to Bangladesh have been finalised,” he said.
Dr Singh, said that work on a transmission line which will evacuate up to 500 megawatt of power to Bangladesh from India has begun, while a feasibility study for the establishment of a 1320 MW power plant in Khulna has been completed.
To enable Bangladeshi viewers to watch their Bangla channels during their visits to India , commercial arrangements can be worked out, Dr Singh said.