• Thursday, Dec 02, 2021
  • Last Update : 01:15 am

Govt holds high hopes for 660m Rangamati-India bridge

  • Published at 10:47 pm May 24th, 2021
maitri setu feni bridge India Bangladesh
An aerial image of Maitri Setu, a bridge built over the Feni river connecting India and Bangladesh, was inaugurated recently Ministry of External Affairs India Twitter feed

The movement of goods between Mizoram and adjacent Indian states can take place through Bangladesh once the bridge is constructed, as the bridge will allow access to Chittagong seaport

The Bangladesh government has high hopes that a 660m-long bridge to India through the Rangamati border area will bring significant benefits for the country by boosting regional trade.

The bridge, proposed by the Indian government, will go across the Thega River and effectively connect Chittagong seaport and Lunglei city in the Indian state of Mizoram.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen on Monday told Dhaka Tribune: “Bangladesh is very positive about the new connection with India [through the proposed bridge].

“The cross-border transport systems that Bangladesh is developing with India is an important step due to the important role such an initiative may play in regional trade,” he added.

The minister did not share details of the bridge project.

According to a letter from the Foreign Ministry, the Roads and Highways Department (RHD) under the Road Transport and Bridges Ministry has already sent the Foreign Ministry a no objection certificate (NoC) regarding the proposal on the border bridge.

The Foreign Ministry is scheduled to arrange an inter-ministerial meeting on the border bridge on Tuesday. Foreign Ministry Secretary (East) Mashfee Binte Shams will preside over the meeting, with top officials of the Road Transport and Bridges and Home Ministries present.

Also read- Hasina, Modi inaugurate Maitri Setu on Feni River

RHD officials said it would be possible to build a bridge over the Thega River in the Thegamukh area of the Rangamati border. They visited the project site several times before sending the NoC.

The design of the 660m bridge was prepared by Indian engineers and has already been reviewed by the RHD, according to Md Shahadat Hossain, superintending engineer (bridge design circle) of the department.

“The bridge will have 15 spans. Each span will be 40m long and one span is 60m, so the total length of the bridge will be 660 meters,” he told Dhaka tribune.

However, roads to connect to the bridge need to be developed, as the project area is currently surrounded by hills. The initial plan is to connect the bridge to the border road project being implemented by RHD in the hill tract districts.

The border road will be integrated with the Rangamati-Rajosthali-Bilaichori road, which is connected to the Rangamati-Chittagong regional highway.

“The Indian government will fund the bridge project. The cost of the project hasn't been fixed yet,” said Md Shah Arefin, executive engineer of RHD in Rangamati.

How much will Bangladesh benefit?

The government has already conducted a socio-economic survey on the potential impact of the new connection to India through the bridge.

According to the survey, the bridge is expected to significantly improve the socio-economic conditions of the people of Mizoram and surrounding north-eastern states of India. The new connection will also contribute to improving the livelihoods of people living on the Bangladesh side of the bridge.

Bangladesh has already permitted the use of Chittagong and Mongla ports for the movement of goods to and from India.

The movement of goods between Mizoram and adjacent Indian states can take place through Bangladesh once the bridge is constructed, as the bridge will allow access to Chittagong seaport. The port in Bangladesh is only 110km away from Mizoram, while the nearest Indian seaport for the state is over 1,624km away in Kolkata

Prof Lailufar Yasmin of Dhaka University’s department of international relations said: “The new connection between Bangladesh and the Indian state of Mizoram will boost trade between the regions. However, Bangladesh will benefit more once we can connect to Thailand and Myanmar through Mizoram.”

Earlier in March, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi inaugurated the Feni bridge in Bandarban, which connects Tripura with Bangladesh.

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